Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
Government is intensifying efforts to boost agricultural production through conservation agriculture methods (also known as Pfumvudza) to guarantee food self-sufficiency and commercialise smallholder agriculture.
Under the Pfumvudza concept, communal farmers will now be required to practise conservation agriculture, a concept also known as Pfumvudza for them to benefit under the Presidential Inputs Scheme as Government moves in to boost agriculture productivity and ensure food self-sufficiency and surplus.
Pfumvudza is a concept that is aimed at climate proofing agriculture by adopting conservation farming techniques and involves the utilisation of small pieces of land and applying the correct agronomic practices for higher returns.
The concept, which will be applied to maize, traditional grains, and soyabeans will also commercialise smallholder agriculture.
The approach can be used in marginal areas and still give high yields.
Under the programme 1, 6 million households are expected to contribute 1, 6 million tonnes of maize towards strengthening the Strategic Grain Reserve(SGR) while 800 000 households are expected to produce between 90 000 and 100 000 tonnes of soya.
In this way, Government would have commercialised smallholder agriculture.
In an interview yesterday, Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement permanent secretary, Dr John Basera said Pfumvudza was one of the concepts under the Agriculture Recovery Plan, which was being spearheaded by Government to reverse the current trends in food production.
Food production has been on a downward trend due to climate change and the Ministry has come up with an agriculture recovery plan to boost productivity.
Dr Basera said for the 2020/21 summer cropping season the Presidential Inputs Scheme will cover 1, 6 million households that will be required to have two plots of maize while those in the dry areas will have traditional grains that consist of oilseeds and pulses.
The plot will measure 39 by 16 metres.
“From one plot a farmer can get between 8 00 kilogrammes and one tonne of maize making it two tonnes per households. A family of five people consumes a tonne of maize per year.
The family will consume one tonne while the remaining tonne will go towards strengthening the SGR. This means from the Presidential Inputs Scheme we will have around 1,6 million tonnes of maize towards the SGR.
“The farmers will be required to do potholing between June and July. The 145 cm deep holes are important as they act as moisture banks. They keep moisture and during the mid-season dry spell, the crops will not suffer from moisture stress,” he said.
He said famers would also be required to use mulch, which besides conserving moisture also suppresses weeds.
“Extension officers will be capacitated so that they will be in a position to educate, track and monitor this concept. For a farmer to access inputs, he or she should have done the proper potholing as required by the extension officer. Each extension officer should target to educate, train, track and monitor at least 350 farmers in each ward,” he said.
Dr Basera said farmers would this year be encouraged to harvest grass for use as mulch.
In high potential areas, a farmer will have two plots for maize and one for soya beans. In low lying areas, the plot will be made of adaptable maize varieties and traditional grains.
Under Pfumvudza farmers will not need vast tracts of land to be food sufficient. They will also be encouraged to practise crop rotation to maintain the soil productive.