Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
More than 300 000 farmers across the country have so far been trained on conservation agriculture, popularly known as the Pfumvudza concept, with most of them already carrying out land preparations for the 2020-21 summer cropping season.
Pfumvudza concept is being promoted by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement to ensure household and national food self-sufficiency.
During the 2020-21 summer cropping season, the Presidential Inputs Scheme will be targeted at promoting Pfumvudza, with priority being given to farmers who would have prepared their land using the technique.
Government is targeting over 1,8 million households to produce 1,8 million tonnes of cereals and over 360 000 tonnes oil seeds under the Pfumvudza concept.
Each household will be supported with a standard input package comprising 5kg seed for maize, 1x50kg bag basal dressing, 1x50kg top dressing, fall armyworm pesticide, traditional grain seeds for both oil seeds and cereals per household.
The standard input package is enough to cultivate three Pfumvudza plots, each plot measuring 16mx39m, two plots for cereals (maize and traditional grains) and a third one for oil seeds such as soyabeans in high rainfall potential areas and sunflower in the low rainfall potential.
Farmers in the drier parts of the country will be supported with other climate smart crops such as cow pea, groundnuts and roundnuts.
Land preparations are under way in most parts of the country, with the communal sector showing an overwhelming response to the conservation farming technique.
The system has helped farmers who do not have draught power after losing their cattle to Theileriosis, popularly known as January disease.
Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Permanent Secretary Dr John Basera, yesterday confirmed that there was a hive of activity on the ground concerning the concept.
“Pfumvudza means a new season of increased productivity; it is a season of producing more on less land and for less resources; a season of climate proofing our agriculture through religious adoption of conservation agriculture,” he said.
“Having realised the need to climate proof our agriculture in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement is on a blitz programme to promote the Climate Smart Concept. At least 4 700 extension officers have been trained under the programme.
“So far, over 300 000 smallholder farmers out of two million target have been trained. Demonstration where farmers get the training have been set across the country. There is tremendous progress on such critical activities as holing out (preparing the holes), mulch harvesting, liming and manure accumulation which are critical for the successful adoption of Pfumvudza concept.”
Dr Basera said the ultimate target for every household was one tonne of cereal and 200kg of oil seeds.
“It means 1,8 million households will give us 1,8 million tonnes of cereals and over 360 000 tonnes oil seeds,” he said. “Our national cereal requirement is 2,1 million tonnes so we are projecting that the Presidential Input Scheme will produce up to 90 percent of our national cereals requirements after adopting the Pfumvudza concept.
“Farmers will produce two plots of cereals and one of oil seeds for household food self-sufficiency and the other plot for sale to the Grain Marketing Board, thus contributing to the Strategic Grain Reserve. We are also promoting farming as a business. Pfumvudza will go a long way in improving livelihoods and ultimately the growth of the rural economy.”
Dr Basera said Government was making efforts to capacitate extension officers through the provision of motor cycles.
Recently, President Mnangagwa supported 5 000 motor cycles for Agritex, Livestock and Veterinary Services Extension staff.
Agritex supervisor, Ms Monica Mutero, said each extension worker was working towards a target of training, tracking and monitoring at least 350 smallholder households.
“We have had an overwhelming response,” she said. “Potholing is underway in most areas. The bulk of the farmers who have adopted the concept are from the communal sector and women are participating.”
Chikwaka farmer, Ms Jessica Musonza, said she started preparing the holes early this month and was now working on the second plot.
“The advantage of this concept is that we will be able to plant on time and the crops will do well even under low rainfall conditions,” she said.
“This is not my first time to do conservation agriculture and I have seen the benefits. Instead of working on the plot alone, we have formed groups of four so we help each other with labour and it will not take long to finish the pot holes.”