Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT has introduced a new farming concept called Pfumvudza to maximise productivity per unit area, even during drought periods, to ensure household and national food and nutritional security.
Pfumvudza involves the utilisation of small pieces of land and applying the correct agronomic practices for higher returns.
The approach can be used in marginal areas and still give high yields.
Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri recently said if the new concept was applied by smallholder farmers it would ensure household food security, while large-scale farmers will produce for the Strategic Grain Reserve.
He urged Zimbabwe to emulate other countries that were food secure, yet did not have vast tracts of land.
Minister Shiri said an average family of four to six required a bucket of maize every week and could produce food to last it a whole year on a small piece of land.
“An average of about four to six members consumes a bucket of maize (20 kilogrammes of maize-meal) a week and if you use the potholing method you need 28 holes in which you sow two seed units per hole, you will get a total of 56 cobs and that is enough for one week,” he said.
“Each week the family can feed from 28 holes and with the 52 rows yielding an average of one tonne, while a family of four to six consumes about half a tonne, food security is guaranteed. It is possible to save half a tonne of maize, which can be sold.
“By using this concept, a farmer can also irrigate crops using a bucket and get a bumper harvest as opposed to planting maize on a large area without adequate resources and end up getting one bucket or less per hectare.”
Minister Shiri encouraged farmers to diversify and not only wait to produce maize as there were other highly nutritious crops that could be grown alongside maize.
Crops such as cassava and traditional grains can also boost household food security.
“A farmer can produce other crops the same way using the Pfumvudza concept,” he said.
“A farmer can produce a leguminous crop such as soyabeans that can be sold and meet other family requirements.
“If we embrace this new scientific approach we should be able to produce a bumper harvest. We can have this approach in marginal areas such as Mudzi, Matabeleland North, Masvingo, south of Manicaland and Rushinga, among others.
Minister Shiri said the 1,6 million households benefitting from the Presidential Inputs Scheme and A1 farmers could use this concept for household food security, while A2 farmers could produce for the Strategic Grain Reserve.
This is feasible if we borrow ideas from gurus in agriculture such as the Chinese, the European Union and countries in the Middle East.
Minister Shiri also gave the example of Europe where most farms were less than 10 hectares and in China where most peasant farmers owned less than a hectare each.
“In Israel, farmers own small farms; worse still in desert conditions and have to clear sand dunes to create space to grow crops, yet these farmers are major exporters of various agricultural products,” he said.
“If the truth can be said, our farmers are sitting on paradise, yet they do not realise it. We, therefore, need to educate our farmers so that together we transform the agricultural sector.”