Researchers from UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) involved in the uMgungundlovu District Municipality’s (UMDM) uMngeni Resilience Project (URP) hosted a half-day workshop at the Ukulinga Research Farm to focus on capacity building within the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (KZNDARD).
The second in a series of UKZN-KZNDARD training sessions, it was attended by 35 scientists, extension officers and practitioners from KZNDARD.
The URP is a climate change adaptation project funded by the global Adaptation Fund through the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). It includes a component that is aimed at improving capacity and sharing learning between communities that are leading the implementation of early warning systems, climate-proof settlements and climate-resistant agriculture, all of which are development targets of the URP.
This component led to the workshop at which KZNDARD extension officers within uMgungundlovu were coached on climate change adaptation. UKZN and KZNDARD maintain a working relationship under an official memorandum of understanding.
Emeritus Professor Roland Schulze spoke on: An Introduction to Climate Change, during which he focused on providing a basic introductory course on climate change and sharing the outputs of the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Climate Change Adaptation Handbook.
‘It is our hope that the handbook will become a very useful tool for the department and other professionals working in agriculture in KwaZulu-Natal,’ said Technical Co-ordinator Dr Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi.
Schulze set the scene by speaking about farming systems in KwaZulu-Natal, including natural assets and deficiencies in climate, landscape and soils, and then addressed climate as a driver of agricultural production in the province, with the added challenge of climate change. He also spoke about vulnerabilities and challenges faced by small scale subsistence farmers.
Schulze expounded on projections of what could be expected in terms of the changing climate in KwaZulu-Natal, including temperature changes and their implications, frost occurrence, heat units, rainfall, soil water, and droughts.
His presentation offered suggestions of how to cope with climate change through climate smart farming, and what this would mean. He also gave example of how climate change could affect key produce including maize, sweet potatoes, dry beans, soybeans, sugarcane, dairy cattle and pigs.
Deputy manager of uMgungundlovu Extension and Advisory Services at KZNDARD, Mr Dayanand Chetty, thanked the University and UMDM for the workshop and the valuable information presented.
Words and photograph: Christine Cuénod