By Albert Makendenge
Zimbabwe is divided into five agro-ecological regions, known as natural regions on the basis of different rainfall regimes, soil fertility, soil quality and vegetation which in turn gives birth to different farming systems/activities.
|NATURAL/AGRICULTURAL ZONE||FARMING ACTIVITIES|
|1 Characterized by high rainfall (more than 1000 mm/year), low temperatures, high altitude and steep slopes.||Plantations (timber plantations)Intensive diversified agriculture and livestock production (dairy farming)Common crops include tropical crops (coffee and tea), deciduous fruits (bananas and apples), horticultural crops (potatoes, peas) and flowers such as proteas.|
|2 750 – 1000 mm of rainfall confined to summer||Suitable for intensive cropping based on tobacco, maize, cotton, wheat, soybeans, sorghum etc. Livestock production including beef, dairy, pig and poultry.|
|3 Rainfall of 500 – 800 mm per year (relatively high temperatures and infrequent heavy rains subject to seasonal droughts and severe mid-season dry spells during the rainy season.||Semi-intensive farming region suitable for semi-intensive livestock production, together with relatively intensive and smallholder production of fodder/drought resistant crops and cash crops under good management. Main crops are maize, cotton, groundnuts and sunflowers.|
|4 Rainfall of 450 – 650 mm subject to frequent seasonal droughts and severe dry spells during the rainy season.||Semi-extensive region suitable for farm systems based on livestock (extensive cattle and wildlife production) and resistant fodder crops (maize, sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet).|
|5 Less than 450 mm of very erratic rainfall. Uneven topography and poor soils.||Extensive farming region suitable for extensive cattle/goat production and game ranching. Although too dry for crop production, farmers still grow grain crops for food security and cash crops such as cotton but yields are extremely low and the risk of crop failure is very high.|