Victoria Falls Reporter
At least 50 000 households in Matabeleland North have been trained on Intwasa/Pfumvudza conservation farming as the province starts distributing inputs to farmers.
Government adopted the Presidential Intwasa/Pfumvudza Climate-Proof Programme to address the problem of low productivity, which continued to negatively affect food security in Zimbabwe.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo launched the provincial chapter of the programme a fortnight ago setting the ball rolling for training of farmers on conservation farming methods, better known as gatshompo in the country’s southern region, and the distribution of inputs.
The provincial Agritex officer Mr Dumisani Nyoni said over 85 000 households are targeted for training under the programme.
“We have gathered momentum. The programme was launched at provincial level and some farmers have prepared one plot, others two while some are ready to receive their inputs after preparing three plots.
“To date 49 533 households have been trained and out of those, 12 821 have prepared the required three plots while 11 048 have prepared two plots and 11 941 are on one plot. Our target is 85 530 households,” said Mr Nyoni.
He said farmers are encouraged to prepare three plots-one for family grain, the other one for supplying the Grain Marketing Board and the last one for producing a commercial crop like sunflower, soya beans or cotton depending on the area.
Mr Nyoni said awareness programmes are underway around the province with full scale distribution of inputs expected next week.
“We have started distributing in Tsholotsho while other districts are finalising modalities for transporting inputs from GMB to their wards. We expect the numbers of farmers that have been trained to increase next week.
“One of the challenges in our province is distance from GMB depots hence we are encouraging those closer to the depots to mobilise each other for viability in transporting inputs. This is the reason why we are taking long as we are doing logistics,” said Mr Nyoni.
He said awareness campaigns will continue because they want to encourage greater uptake of the programme.
Mr Nyoni also bemoaned shortage of Agritex officers in the province which he said was also slowing down progress.
The province has 203 extension officers instead of 498 need to work in all the 166 wards.
The Intwasa programme is being cascaded to small scale farmers in all eight rural provinces countrywide, with the aim of improving food security and income for households from surpluses and cash crops to boost national standards of living.