CR 66:103-111 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01334

Indigenous knowledge systems, seasonal ‘quality’ and climate change adaptation in Zimbabwe

O. Jiri1,2,*, P. L. Mafongoya1, P. Chivenge1,3 

1School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa
2University of Zimbabwe, Faculty of Agriculture, PO Box MP167, Mt Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe
3International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, PO Box 776, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Farmers use a variety of local indicators for weather forecasting and climate prediction, in order to adapt to climate variability and change. Integrating indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) with the efforts of climate scientists can contribute to effective on-farm adaptation initiatives. The objective of this research was to identify IKS used by Zimbabwean farmers to predict seasonal weather patterns, and their adaptation strategies in response to these predictions. The information was collected using focus group discussions, household surveys, and ethnographic interviews. Most farmers (72.2%) indicated that low rainfall is the major limitation to agricultural production. Without access to reliable local scientific weather forecasts, the farmers use tree phenology, animal behaviour and atmospheric circulation as sources of local knowledge to predict the onset and ‘quality’ of the season. These forecasts are then used for designing crop choices, planting dates and agronomic practices. Our results show that the use of IKS in local farming communities is an effective way of building coping and adaptation strategies. The results also revealed that indigenous knowledge is being eroded and is becoming less accurate in seasonal weather prediction. Therefore, future studies on IKS could explore the use of multiple methods that combine indigenous knowledge and scientific weather data in order to obtain more complete and accurate information for the prediction of local area seasonal characteristics.


KEY WORDS: Indigenous knowledge · Smallholder farmers · Weather forecasting · Food security · Agronomy


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Cite this article as: Jiri O, Mafongoya PL, Chivenge P (2015) Indigenous knowledge systems, seasonal ‘quality’ and climate change adaptation in Zimbabwe. Clim Res 66:103-111. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01334

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