Climate change is causing drastic changes in the way human beings survive, the global village speak with unison when it comes to the effects of climate change.
Reverends Forbes and Nyaradzai Matonga of United Methodist Church were at a certin time the third largest producer of pork in Mashonaland East Province, but the Matonga are no longer into piggery as they were drived out of business by climate induced changes.
Rodney Kurirai Matonga Zowa, a son to the Reverends told this publication that they were into piggery but the effects of climate change led them to close business.
United Nations (UN) describes climate change as long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns.
These shifts may be natural, but since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels (like coal, oil and gas), which produces heat-trapping gases.
Climate is sometimes mistaken for weather.
There is a difference between climate and weather because the former is measured over a long period of time, whereas weather can change from day to day, or from year to year.
The climate of an area includes seasonal temperature and rainfall averages, and wind patterns.
Climate change cause weather patterns to be less predictable.
Rodney said that, “We used to grow maize which we used to make feed for the pigs but the yield of the crop started to drop over time.
We realised that it was no longer profitable to continue growing maize as feed since we ended up purchasing stock feed which was not favourable to the business”.
There was change in the weather patterns which affected yield.
These unexpected weather patterns can make it difficult to maintain and grow crops in regions that rely on farming because expected temperature and rainfall levels can no longer be relied on.
The cause of current climate change is largely human activity, like burning fossil fuels, like natural gas, oil, and coal.
Burning these materials releases what are greenhouse gases into Earth’s atmosphere.
In the atmosphere, these gases trap heat from the sun’s rays inside the atmosphere causing Earth’s average temperature to rise.
The rise in the planet’s temperature is called global warming.
The Matonga family realised the impacts of global warming and its consequences and decided to be the positive change that is needed.
From poultry production, they shifted into agro forestry.
Some of the solutions to global warming is eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and less meat and dairy, can significantly lower human environmental impact.
Producing plant-based foods generally results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions and requires less energy, land and water.
Agro forestry is a deliberate management of trees with other crops on the same land area to gain benefits from the mutual interactions of the whole growing system.
It combines agricultural and forestry technologies to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy, and sustainable land-use systems
The Matonga family are now into citrus production and seasonally plant leguminous crops in the orchard.
In their orchard they have naartjies, lemon and orange.
The orchard has 900 naartjies trees which are on production stage. 200 naartjies are not yet producing.
“We have 200 eureka lemon trees which are in production but normally we do not sell the lemons, we use them for seeds”, said Rodney.
They also have 200 producing mangoe trees and 120 not yet producing.
They boast of 200 banana plants which they have restricted to rain season production due to its placement near a dam which produce cold which is unfavourable to off season bananas.
The second crop at the homestead is mangoe and they have 7 varieties of the 400 population.
Rodney said that, “During the rain season, we plant leguminous crops such as ground nuts, beans among others in the orchard and these crops provide nitrogen to the plants”.
Besides serving space and increasing intensity on production, the Matonga maximises profit on a small piece of land.
Besides being in citrus production they are also into plant nursery.
“In the nursery we plant the seeds and we wait for them to germinate and at a certain stage we do budding or grafting depending on the plant”, Rodney explained.
In the nursery there are naartjies, but initially they are grown as lemon than they bud them, there are also mangoe, avocadoe and they of late have started to do flowers for beautification.
Research establish that tree planting can in a way help fight climate change.
The Matonga are meaningfully contributing towards the fight against climate change through their agro forestry business.
Trees capture and store the carbon dioxide (CO2) that causes climate change.
They absorb CO2 during photosynthesis and release oxygen (O2).
Besides nursery and the orchard business, the Matonga family is also into vegetable and carrot production.
The garden assist the family in managing crop rotation as well as reduce dependency on animals for food which in turn accentuates climate change.
The family work closely with Mazowe Research Service which took the agro forestry as part of their research centre.
Several agriculture workshops have been held at the homestead were many people participated in agricultural learning.
Some Agriculture Extension Workers also visit the homestead to learn how the Matonga are doing their business.
The brisk business also hosts numerous field day were locals gather to learn and share ideas with experts.
As part of their agritourism, the Matonga welcomes visitors to tour their plantation, participate in gathering of the fruits as well as learn to handle such business from nursery upto sales of fruits.