Evaluating the role of climate smart agriculture towards sustainable livelihoods in Mutare district, Zimbabwe

  • William Muzorewa University of South Africa, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Department of Environmental Sciences, Private Bag X6, Florida, 1710. South Africa,
  • Munyaradzi Chitakira Environmental Management, University of South Africa, School of Ecological and Human Sustainability, Department of Environmental Sciences, Private Bag X6, Florida, 1710. South Africa,
Keywords: climate smart agriculture, conservation agriculture, livelihood strategies, productivity, resilience


Increasing climate variability continues to threaten livelihoods in southern Africa where communities face the challenges of addressing context specific complexities associated with rain-fed agriculture. Zimbabwe is equally vulnerable but the country is going through a transformation in agriculture through the implementation of climate smart agriculture practices that endeavour to enhance adaptation, resilience and increase productivity. The study was undertaken in Mutare district, Zimbabwe with the aim of exploring the role of climate smart agriculture practices that are applied to construct sustainable livelihoods. The study employed a triangulation and validation of quantitative and qualitative data collection techniques that involved household surveys and key informant interviews. Descriptive statistics was applied to give a meaningful narrative of the data. The results revealed traditional and innovative agriculture production methods that are based on least soil disturbance, preservation of ground cover and crop diversification. Small livestock farming was lauded as basic strategy that ameliorate immediate family needs whilst large livestock farming was revealed as symbol of status and source of funds to mitigate important family events such as deaths or weddings of close relative. Forestry farming was established as a reliable source of income that is earned from the sale of timber, woodcrafts and fodder for livestock, among others. The paper further established that changes in climatic conditions that result in droughts, thunderstorms, leaching of crops and infestation of pests are the major challenges that reduce the implementation of climate smart agriculture practices that support robust sustainable livelihoods. The paper recommends continued financial and technical support from government and non-governmental organizations to promote climate smart agriculture practices that support sustainable livelihood outcomes and mitigate the detrimental effects of climate variability and change.


Adele, A., & Todd, A. C. (2011). Impacts of climate change on smallholder farmers in Africa and their adaptation strategies: What are the roles for research?: International Symposium and Consultation (29-31 March, 2010, Arusha, Tanzania): Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT); Pan-Africa Bean …. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/54340
Bailey, C. R., & Bailey, C. A. (2017). A guide to qualitative field research: Sage Publications. https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/a-guide-to-qualitative-field-research/book245569
Baudron, F., Mwanza, H., Triomphe, B., & Bwalya, M. (2007). Conservation agriculture in Zambia: a case study of Southern Province. https://doc.uments.com/g-conservation-agriculture-in-zambia-a-case-study-of-southern-province.pdf
Belder, P., Rohrbach, D., Twomlow, S., & Senzanje, A. (2007). Can drip irrigation improve the livelihoods of smallholders? Lessons learned from Zimbabwe: Global Theme on Agroecosystems Report no. 33. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/26522832
Bhatia, M. (2018). Your Guide to Qualitative and Quantitative Data Analysis Methods. Retrieved July 28, 2019. https://humansofdata.atlan.com/2018/09/qualitative-quantitative-data-analysis-methods/
Bossio, D. (2009). Livestock and water: understanding the context based on the ‘Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture’. The Rangeland Journal, 31(2), 179-186. http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RJ09001
Busari, M. A., Kukal, S. S., Kaur, A., Bhatt, R., & Dulazi, A. A. (2015). Conservation tillage impacts on soil, crop and the environment. International Soil and Water Conservation Research, 3(2), 119-129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iswcr.2015.05.002
Cavatassi, R. (2005). Valuation methods for environmental benefits in forestry and watershed investment projects. https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3307569
Chambers, R., & Conway, G. (1992). Sustainable rural livelihoods: practical concepts for the 21st century: Institute of Development Studies (UK). https://www.ids.ac.uk/publications/sustainable-rural-livelihoods-practical-concepts-for-the-21st-century/
Chaminuka, N., & Dube, E. (2017). Urban agriculture as a food security strategy for urban dwellers: A case study of Mkoba residents in the city of Gweru, Zimbabwe. PEOPLE: International Journal of Social Sciences, 3(2). https://doi.org/10.20319/pijss.2017.32.2645
Dury, J., Schaller, N., Garcia, F., Reynaud, A., & Bergez, J. E. (2012). Models to support cropping plan and crop rotation decisions. A review. Agronomy for sustainable development, 32(2), 567-580. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-011-0037-x
FAO, F. (2010). Climate smart agriculture: policies, practices and financing for food security, adaptation and mitigation. Paper presented at the Paper prepared for Hague Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change. doi: 10.1038/nclimate2437
Gwetsayi, R. T., Dube, L., & Mashapa, C. (2016). Urban Horticulture for Food Security and Livelihood Restoration in Mutare City, Eastern Zimbabwe. Greener Journal of Social Sciences, 6(3), 056-064. doi: 10.15580/GJSS.2016.3.082116130
Hauggaard-Nielsen, H., Lachouani, P., Knudsen, M. T., Ambus, P., Boelt, B., & Gislum, R. (2016). Productivity and carbon footprint of perennial grass–forage legume intercropping strategies with high or low nitrogen fertilizer input. Science of the Total Environment, 541, 1339-1347. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.10.013
Helmreich, B., & Horn, H. (2009). Opportunities in rainwater harvesting. Desalination, 248(1-3), 118-124. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.desal.2008.05.046
Kahinda, J.-m. M., Taigbenu, A. E., & Boroto, J. R. (2007). Domestic rainwater harvesting to improve water supply in rural South Africa. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Parts A/B/C, 32(15-18), 1050-1057. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pce.2007.07.007
Kassam, A., Friedrich, T., Shaxson, F., & Pretty, J. (2009). The spread of conservation agriculture: justification, sustainability and uptake. International journal of agricultural sustainability, 7(4), 292-320. https://www.researchgate.net/deref/http%3A%2F%2Fdx.doi.org%2F10.3763%2Fijas.2009.0477
Kaushik, M., & Mathur, B. (2014). Data analysis of students marks with descriptive statistics. International Journal on Recent and Innovation Trends in computing and communication, 2(5), 1188-1190. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/293074171_Data_Analysis_of_Students_Marks_with_Descriptive_Statistics
Khosla, R. (2010). Precision agriculture: challenges and opportunities in a flat world. Paper presented at the 19th World Congress of Soil Science, Soil Solutions for a Changing World, Brisbane, Australia. https://www.iuss.org/19th%20WCSS/Symposium/pdf/0779.pdf
Kpadonou, R. A. B., Owiyo, T., Barbier, B., Denton, F., Rutabingwa, F., & Kiema, A. (2017). Advancing climate-smart-agriculture in developing drylands: Joint analysis of the adoption of multiple on-farm soil and water conservation technologies in West African Sahel. Land Use Policy, 61, 196-207. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2016.10.050
Kujinga, K., Chingarande, S. D., Proisca, H., & Nyelele, C. (2012). Interface Between Research, Development and Local Actors in Enhancing Sustainable Forest Resources Management: Lessons from Chimanimani District. Zimbabwe. J. Soc. Dev. Afr, 27, 23-56. https://www.academia.edu/4524632/Interface_Between_Research_Development_and_Local_Actors_in_Enhancing_Sustainable_Forest_Resources_Management_Lessons_from_Chimanimani_District_Zimbabwe
Lamsal, P., Kumar, L., & Atreya, K. (2017). Historical evidence of climatic variability and changes, and its effect on high-altitude regions: insights from Rara and Langtang, Nepal. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, 24(6), 471-484. https://www.researchgate.net/deref/http%3A%2F%2Fdx.doi.org%2F10.1080%2F13504509.2016.1198939
Lavrakas, P. J. (2008). Encyclopedia of survey research methods: Sage Publications. https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/encyclopedia-of-survey-research-methods/book227714
Lawrence, M., Tapiwa, K. A., Lovemore, M., & Michael, M. (2020). Smallholder Tobacco Farmers and Forest Conservation in Mutasa District, Zimbabwe. landscape, 30, 33. doi: 10.11648/j.eeb.20200501.12
Lin, B. B. (2011). Resilience in agriculture through crop diversification: adaptive management for environmental change. BioScience, 61(3), 183-193. https://doi.org/10.1525/bio.2011.61.3.4
Majid, M. A. A., Othman, M., Mohamad, S. F., Lim, S. A. H., & Yusof, A. (2017). Piloting for interviews in qualitative research: Operationalization and lessons learnt. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 7(4), 1073-1080. doi: 10.6007/IJARBSS/v7-i4/2916
Makate, C., Wang, R., Makate, M., & Mango, N. (2016). Crop diversification and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe: adaptive management for environmental change. SpringerPlus, 5(1), 1135. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40064-016-2802-4
Manda, J., Alene, A. D., Gardebroek, C., Kassie, M., & Tembo, G. (2016). Adoption and impacts of sustainable agricultural practices on maize yields and incomes: Evidence from rural Zambia. Journal of Agricultural Economics, 67(1), 130-153. https://ideas.repec.org/a/bla/jageco/v67y2016i1p130-153.html
Manzungu, E. (2014). A Comprehensive Scoping and Assessment Study of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) Policies in Zimbabwe. https://www.fanrpan.org/archive/documents/d01765/Zimbabwe_comprehensive_scoping_and_assessment_study_of_climate_smart_agriculture_policies.pdf
MAO, L.-l., ZHANG, L.-z., ZHANG, S.-p., Evers, J. B., van der Werf, W., WANG, J.-j., . . . Spiertz, H. (2015). Resource use efficiency, ecological intensification and sustainability of intercropping systems. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 14(8), 1542-1550. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61039-5
Mapira, J. (2011). River pollution in the city of Mutare (Zimbabwe) and its implications for sustainable development. Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa, 13(6), 181-194. http://jsd-africa.com/Jsda/Vol13No6_Fall2011_B/PDF/River%20Pollution%20in%20the%20City.pdf
Marongwe, L. S., Kwazira, K., Jenrich, M., Thierfelder, C., Kassam, A., & Friedrich, T. (2011). An African success: the case of conservation agriculture in Zimbabwe. International journal of agricultural sustainability, 9(1), 153-161. https://doi.org/10.3763/ijas.2010.0556
Masikati, P. (2010). Improving the water productivity of integrated crop livestock systems in the semiarid tropics of Zimbabwe: an exante analysis using simulation modeling. Retrieved September 17, 2017. https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=
Mavedzenge, B., Mahenehene, J., Murimbarimba, F., Scoones, I., & Wolmer, W. (2006). Changes in the livestock sector in Zimbabwe following land reform: the case of Masvingo province. Institute for Development Studies, Brighton, available from: http://www. ids. ac. uk/index. cfm.
McCarthy, N., Lipper, L., & Branca, G. (2011). Climate-smart agriculture: smallholder adoption and implications for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Mitigation of Climate Change in Agriculture Working Paper, 3(1), 1-37.
Metcalf, S. S., & Widener, M. J. (2011). Growing Buffalo’s capacity for local food: A systems framework for sustainable agriculture. Applied Geography, 31(4), 1242-1251. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2011.01.008
Moyo, P. (2013). Urban agriculture and poverty mitigation in Zimbabwe: prospects and obstacles in Bulawayo townships. Journal of Human Ecology, 42(2), 125-133. https://doi.org/10.1080/09709274.2013.11906586
Mubaya, C. P., Njuki, J., Mutsvangwa, E. P., Mugabe, F. T., & Nanja, D. (2012). Climate variability and change or multiple stressors? Farmer perceptions regarding threats to livelihoods in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Journal of environmental management, 102, 9-17. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.02.005
Muchadeyi, F. (2007). Assessment of genetic diversity of Zimbabwe village chicken eco-types: Cuvillier Verlag Gottingen Germany.
Mugandani, R., Wuta, M., Makarau, A., & Chipindu, B. (2012). Re-classification of agro-ecological regions of Zimbabwe in conformity with climate variability and change. African Crop Science Journal, 20(2), 361-369. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303918743_Re-classification_of_agro-ecological_regions_of_Zimbabwe_in_conformity_with_climate_variability_and_change
Mutibvu, T., Maburutse, B., Mbiriri, D., & Kashangura, M. (2012). Constraints and opportunities for increased livestock production in communal areas: A case study of Simbe, Zimbabwe. Livest Res Rural Dev, 24(9). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281268149
Muzari, W., Nyamushamba, G., & Soropa, G. (2016). Climate change adaptation in Zimbabwe‟ s agricultural Sector. International Journal of Science and Research, 5(1), 1762-1768.
Muzorewa, W., & Chitakira, M. (2020). Climate-smart livelihood strategies in rural and urban communities in eastern Zimbabwe: an in-depth literature study. South African Geographical Journal, 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1080/03736245.2020.1835701
Mwongera, C., Shikuku, K. M., Twyman, J., Läderach, P., Ampaire, E., Van Asten, P., . . . Winowiecki, L. A. (2017). Climate smart agriculture rapid appraisal (CSA-RA): A tool for prioritizing context-specific climate smart agriculture technologies. Agricultural systems, 151, 192-203. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2016.05.009
Ndebele-Murisa, M., & Mubaya, C. (2015). Climate change: Impact on agriculture, livelihood options and adaptation strategies for smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe. Beyond the Crises: Zimbabwe’s Prospects for Transformafion, 155-198.
Ndebele, J., Muchenje, V., Mapiye, C., Chimonyo, M., Musemwa, L., & Ndlovu, T. (2007). Cattle breeding management practices in the Gwayi smallholder farming area of South-Western Zimbabwe. Livestock Research for Rural Development, 19(11). https://www.lrrd.cipav.org.co/lrrd19/12/ndeb19183.htm
Ngara, T. (2017). Climate-Smart Agriculture Manual for Agriculture Education in Zimbabwe. https://ccafs.cgiar.org/resources/publications/climate-smart-agriculture-manual-agriculture-education-zimbabwe
Nhemachena, C., & Hassan, R. (2007). Micro-level analysis of farmers adaption to climate change in Southern Africa: Intl Food Policy Res Inst.
Nhemachena, C., & Mano, R. (2007). Assessment of the economic impacts of climate change on agriculture in Zimbabwe: A Ricardian approach: The World Bank. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/23550291
Ning, C., Qu, J., He, L., Yang, R., Chen, Q., Luo, S., & Cai, K. (2017). Improvement of yield, pest control and Si nutrition of rice by rice-water spinach intercropping. Field Crops Research, 208, 34-43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fcr.2017.04.005
Nolin, J., & Von Essen, C.-F. (2005). Conservation farming in Zambia. http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-8-858
Nyamadzawo, G., Wuta, M., Nyamangara, J., & Gumbo, D. (2013). Opportunities for optimization of in-field water harvesting to cope with changing climate in semi-arid smallholder farming areas of Zimbabwe. SpringerPlus, 2(1), 100. https://dx.doi.org/10.1186%2F2193-1801-2-100
Osborne, J. W. (2008). Best practices in quantitative methods: Sage. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=M5_FCgCuwFgC
Rioux, J., Gomez San Juan, M., Neely, C., Seeberg-Elverfeldt, S., Karttunen, K., Rosenstock, T., . . . Kimaro, A. (2016). Planning, implementing and evaluating climate-smart agriculture in smallholder farming systems. Mitigation of Climate Change in Agriculture Series (FAO) eng no. 11. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5805e.pdf
Rosenstock, T. S., Lamanna, C., Chesterman, S., Bell, P., Arslan, A., Richards, M., . . . Cheng, Z. (2016). The scientific basis of climate-smart agriculture: A systematic review protocol. https://ccafs.cgiar.org/resources/publications/scientific-basis-climate-smart-agriculture-systematic-review-protocol
Rusinga, O., Chapungu, L., Moyo, P., & Stigter, K. (2014). Perceptions of climate change and adaptation to microclimate change and variability among smallholder farmers in Mhakwe communal area, Manicaland province, Zimbabwe. Ethiopian Journal of Environmental Studies and Management, 7(3), 310–318-310–318.
DOI: 10.4314/ejesm.v7i3.11
Saunders, B., Sim, J., Kingstone, T., Baker, S., Waterfield, J., Bartlam, B., . . . Jinks, C. (2018). Saturation in qualitative research: exploring its conceptualization and operationalization. Quality & quantity, 52(4), 1893-1907. doi:10.1007/s11135-017-0574-8
Setia, M. S. (2016). Methodology series module 3: Cross-sectional studies. Indian journal of dermatology, 61(3), 261. https://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5154.182410
Shava, S., O'Donoghue, R., Krasny, M. E., & Zazu, C. (2009). Traditional food crops as a source of community resilience in Zimbabwe. International Journal of African Renaissance Studies, 4(1), 31-48. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18186870903101982
Steenwerth, K. L., Hodson, A. K., Bloom, A. J., Carter, M. R., Cattaneo, A., Chartres, C. J., . . . Horwath, W. R. (2014). Climate-smart agriculture global research agenda: scientific basis for action. Agriculture & Food Security, 3(1), 1-39. https://doi.org/10.1186/2048-7010-3-11
Svotwa, E., Hamudikuwanda, H., & Makarau, A. (2007). Influence of climate and weather on cattle production semi-arid communal areas of Zimbabwe. Electronic journal of environmental, agricultural and food chemistry, 6, 1838-1850.
Twomlow, S., Rohrbach, D., Hove, L., Mupangwa, W., Mashingaidze, N., Moyo, M., & Chiroro, C. (2006). Conservation farming by basins breathes new life into small holder farmers in Zimbabwe. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237238244
Wagstaff, P., & Harty, M. (2010). The impact of conservation agriculture on food security in three low veldt districts of Zimbabwe. Trocaire development review(2010), 67-84. http://www.trocaire.org/sites/trocaire/files/pdfs/tdr/Article%204.pdf
Wambugu, C., Franzel, S., & Rioux, J. (2014). Options for climate-smart agriculture at Kaptumo site in Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre. http://dx.doi.org/10.5716/WP14394.PDF
Zimstat. (2015). Compendium of Statistics 2014: Zimbabwe National Statistic Agency Harare. http://www.zimstat.co.zw/statistical-databases/
Zinyemba, C., Archer, E., & Rother, H.-A. (2018). Climate variability, perceptions and political ecology: Factors influencing changes in pesticide use over 30 years by Zimbabwean smallholder cotton producers. PloS one, 13(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0196901
How to Cite
Muzorewa, W., & Chitakira, M. (2022). Evaluating the role of climate smart agriculture towards sustainable livelihoods in Mutare district, Zimbabwe. Future of Food: Journal on Food, Agriculture and Society, 10(1). Retrieved from https://www.thefutureoffoodjournal.com/index.php/FOFJ/article/view/412
Research Articles