It is no longer possible to look at food, livelihoods, health and the management of natural resources separately. The agenda to mainstream biodiversity in agriculture seeks to balance the interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment and advance the need for socially equitable food systems within which people can exercise choice over what they eat, how and where it is produced. Zimbabwe is not spared from the global ecological, economic and social shocks affecting agriculture, and agroecology is a panacea to transform and drive sustainable agrifood systems.
In response, through the Ministries responsible for Agriculture and Environment, the Government of Zimbabwe convened a one-day coordination workshop to evaluate, learn and develop integrated approaches to mainstream biodiversity into agriculture. More than 40 experts attended the meeting from the agriculture and environment sectors, drawn in the context of strengthening the National Agriculture Policy Framework (NAPF) pillar eight (8) and the National Biodiversity Forum (NBF) to coordinate the implementation of climate-smart and ecosystem-based agricultural practices.
“Pillar 8 forum on resilient and sustainable agriculture was established to coordinate stakeholders’ activities within the government, private sector, development partners and CSOs promoting agrobiodiversity and climate-smart agriculture initiatives. This pillar is cognisant that climate change is not going away anytime. As a sector, there is a need to build resilience to climate change through adaptation and mitigation strategies,” said Dorcas Tawonashe, Director of the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Pillar 8 and NBF coordination meeting was supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through the European Union-funded project, “Capacity Building Related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Countries Phase III (ACP MEAs3).” The project aims to promote environmental sustainability in the ACP countries by strengthening environmental governance, mainstreaming biodiversity into agricultural policies and implementing Multilateral Environmental Agreements.
“The National Biodiversity Forum is a multistakeholder platform established by the Ministry of Environment to oversee the development, implementation and reporting of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan as required by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity,” said Abraham Matiza, Deputy Director in the Ministry of Environment.
FAO presented a preliminary inventory and status of agroecology implementation in Zimbabwe. Stakeholders are at different levels of conceptualizing and implementing agroecology. Considering local modifications of the principles or elements of agroecology by farmers and practitioners, the meeting called upon FAO to coordinate and organize training for the government and stakeholders on agroecology and the Tool for Agroecology Performance Evaluation (TAPE). Another presentation on the draft agroecology policy was met with high ambitions and targets for agriculture to achieve better production, better nutrition, better environment, and a better life – leaving no one behind.
“The meeting provided an opportunity for participants to deliberate, collaborate and take collective action towards better food systems and implementation of multilateral environmental instruments to realize a better future for our country,” said Andrew Mushita, Executive Director for the Community Technology Development Organization.
The meeting acknowledged the interlinkages between agriculture and the environment sectors as they discussed the outcomes of the 15th Conference of Parties on the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15). The meeting noted that 15 of the 23 targets of the newly adopted Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) are relevant to food and agriculture and requested an integrated approach to review, update and align the National Biodiversity and Action Plan to the new GBF.
Going forward, the meeting developed and adopted four pillar work streams and plans to strengthen: 1) Policy Development; 2) Climate Change, Mitigation and Adaptation in agriculture; 3) Pesticides reduction and Pollinators protection, and 4) Development of sustainable agriculture value chains. The meeting developed work plans for the four thematic working groups and committed that the groups should coordinate the integrated approaches to implement the work plans.
“I encouraged all stakeholders to work together in support of the working groups to leverage on the synergies from the environment and agriculture sectors – no silos!,” concluded Matiza, underlining the importance of implementing together.
The meeting agreed to convene quarterly coordination meetings to take stock of progress, stimulating dialogue and cross-fertilization of views and ideas between agriculture and environment sectors. FAO is committed to give technical support, coordinate and always bring the agriculture and environment sectors to discuss and find common solutions to cross-cutting issues.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.