By Duduzile Ruzive
It was in 2008 when I was working at Zimbabwe National Foods, a company that focuses on buying, packaging and distribution of agro-products. We were mostly dealing with products like mealie-meal, cooking oil, wheat, groundnuts and peanut butter.
The survival of the company was based on the amount of products produced and supplied by commercial and smallholder farmers.
In 2010, climate change started to affect farming operations in Zimbabwe. The term climate change was still unknown to me and many other Zimbabweans. I was aware that occasionally, the country experiences a drought. However, from 2009 up to 2011, rainfall patterns had noticeably changed. We were experiencing cyclones accompanied by heavy rains for a few days and then no rains for the rest of the year. The conditions were not ideal to maintain soil moisture for crops to grow up to harvesting time. Farmers were now bringing in less products and our company was facing serious operational challenges.
In 2011, the farming season was very poor. Our company immediately called me and my 12 workmates and told us that the company was now retrenching us with immediate effects. I was devastated. I had no other source of livelihood. I struggled to come to term with my new situations.
Many people were retrenched by their companies that year and talk on climate crisis was now taking space in the media and on online platforms. Living in town was no longer practical for me. Together with my other family members, we moved back to our rural areas in Hurungwe in the Mashonaland West province of Zimbabwe.
At least in the rural areas (Hurungwe), we were not paying rates and electricity bills. There were plenty of indigenous fruits that supplemented our diet. The widespread droughts resulted in increased talk about climate change. I started to pay more attention to climate change discussions so that I could learn more about mitigation strategies.
2011 brings so much bad memories for me because some of my family member died as they attempted to cross the Limpopo River to go to South Africa. Up to day, the climate crisis is worsening in the country. Mitigation strategies are limited and more and more people are finding themselves in desperate situations that force them to migrate.