Revised agro-ecological zones will reveal regions’ full potentialities

Edgar Vhera Agriculture Specialist Writer

THE GOVERNMENT has moved a gear up in buttressing the success of the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme through distributing inputs matching the climatic and soil requirements of the regions in which the benefitting farmers are situated.

Speaking at the recent Zimbabwe Agricultural Show, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr Anxious Masuka, stressed that the time when the country produced what it wanted anywhere were long gone with the demands of the agro-ecological regions in which farmers found themselves now determining what must be grown there.

“The Government policy is to support farmers in accordance with the dictates of those agro-ecological zones,” said Dr Masuka.

Agricultural Advisory and Rural Development Services chief director Professor Obert Jiri also stressed that the Government was seized with maximising crop productivity on the basis of climate and soil biophysical potential and limitations.

“This year, the distribution of inputs under Pfumvudza will be done according to agro-ecological regions to maximise on the potential of the programme given the high possibility of erratic rains in terms of commencement, distribution and cessation. The programme will support five Pfumvudza/ Intwasa plots – each measuring 39m x 16m in size, per farming household.

“The crop input package will be agro-ecological region specific for maize, sorghum, pearl millet, soya beans, sunflower, groundnuts, dry beans, African peas and vegetables. The package will also include water retention enhancers, herbicides package for three plots as well as fall armyworm remedy,” said Prof Jiri.

He revealed the crops that farmers would be provided with inputs for the upcoming summer season as follows:

Natural Regions 1 and 2

Farmers in Regions 1 and 2 will get inputs to produce three mandatory maize plots and have the option to choose between sunflower, sorghum, pearl millet, groundnuts, African peas and sugar beans for the remaining two plots.

Natural Region 3

Those farmers in Region 3 will be supplied with crop input packages to plant two mandatory maize plots and sorghum or sunflower plots with their three optional plots comprising sunflower, sorghum, pearl millet, groundnuts, African peas and sugar beans.

Natural Regions 4 and 5

Lastly, farmers in Regions 4 and 5 will get input package to plant one mandatory sorghum plot, one millet plot and one sunflower plot with farmers getting the option to choose between maize, African peas, ground nuts, sorghum and millet for the two remaining plots.

He specified that the Pfumvudza programme was set to benefit 3, 5 million farmers in communal, A1, small-scale commercial farming, old resettlement and peri-urban farming sectors in the production of cereals, oilseeds and legumes.

“In order to stamp out corruption, distribution of the Presidential Climate-Proofed Inputs Scheme will be conducted by the local distribution committee. The distribution committee will comprise among others, locally selected members such as chiefs/headman, village heads, AGRITEX, a local school head, party representative, SMEs, ward coordinator, youth coordinator and the security sector as guided by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development,” continued Prof Jiri.

“Grain Marketing Board (GMB) supply chain managers will superintend over the input distribution process in their catchment areas and receive inputs at GMB depots before reconciling the distribution figures,” he said.

To entrench the spirit of leaving no place and no one behind, the Government will extend the Zunde raMambo/Isiphala seNkosi concept to village heads and headmen.

“In addition to household support the programme will also facilitate the Zunde Ramambo scheme, which will support 10 plots for the chiefs, seven plots for headmen and five plots each for village heads,” pointed out Prof Jiri.

He further urged farmers to fast-track holing out and mulch placement on all of their five plots.

Some farmers have since completed the holing out and mulching process in preparation for the approaching summer season. Taking a cue from the Government’s resolve to end hunger and treat farming as a business, a farmer in Ward 14 Shurugwi, Mr Nelson Chikosha has so far surpassed the five plots by doing ten plots, four of which have been planted.

Commenting on the Pfumvudza programme, Zimbabwe Farmers Union secretary general, Mr Paul Zakariya revealed that they are busy mobilising farmers to increase the plots to five with the main obstacle at the moment being the dryness of the ground.

“We are urging our farmers to increase the area under Pfumvudza to five plots while educating them on conservation farming. Farmers who did their holing while the ground was still wet in winter are ready to go. The challenge that now remains is that of farmers who want to start the holing now when the ground is dry,” said Mr Zakariya.

In 2020 Zimbabwe produced the new revised Agro-Ecological Zone map to replace the old one crafted in 1960s with the aim of strengthening the capacity of farmers to plan for climate risks and boost agriculture production and food security.

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