The Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Agricultural Research Council and University of the Free State jointly organized a Farmers’ Open Day in Rietpan village, Phuthaditjhaba on 26 February 2020.

The Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Agricultural Research Council and University of the Free State jointly organized a Farmers’ Open Day in Rietpan village, Phuthaditjhaba on 26 February 2020.

The event was aimed at raising awareness on climate change/variability and its impact on crop production. Another objective of the open day was to promote strategies that can be used by smallholder farmers to manage the adversity of climate change.

Smallholder farmers attending the Farmers’ Open Day at Rietpan village, Phuthaditjhaba, South Africa

Local extension officers and researchers (left) and smallholder farmers (right) attending the Farmers’ Open Day at Rietpan village, Phuthaditjhaba, South Africa

Forty people comprising smallholder farmers, extension officers and researchers participated in the event. The discussion of participants identified the variability in frequency and amount of rainfall, the frequent and extended periods of drought and outbreaks of pests and diseases as the major climate-related risks that already affecting agriculture in the area.  

Local extension officers and researchers at the Open Day

The InnovAfrica project team raised awareness and promoted Sustainable Agricultural Intensification (SAI) technologies such as intercropping, mulching, crop rotation and minimum tillage that can be effectively used by smallholder farmers to cope with climate variability.

Field demonstrations on monitoring and detection of common pests on beans

The project’s team also promoted simple adaptation practices that do not require additional inputs or technical skills such as changing planting dates, changing crop types, crop diversification, and rainwater harvesting to mitigate the adverse effect of climate change. The InnovAfrica team distributed posters with information on the causes of climate change, the use of weather forecasts for making informed decisions, adaptation practices, and the most promising SAIs.

A pathologist from the University of the Free State raised awareness about common pests of maize-beans cropping systems. The deliberations were centered on the type of pests, monitoring, and detection of as well as the techniques to manage them.