Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor
The aggressive promotion of the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme — a low input sustainable agriculture approach to enhance household food and nutrition security has boosted crop yields and smallholder farmer’s resilience.
Zimbabwe adopted the concept in the 2020-2021 farming season as a way of climate proofing agriculture by adopting conservation farming techniques on smallholder farming plots and applying the correct agronomic practices for higher returns.
Its massive uptake has improved yields and enhanced household food security for the majority of smallholder farmers.
Conservation agriculture which is now commonly known as Pfumvudza/Intwasa has been in existence for decades but was more aggressively promoted by the Government in the 2020-2021 cropping season making it to become more popular and widely adopted.
For several years, local and international NGOs tried to popularise it, but fell short in terms of reach and promotion.
But when the Government adopted it and promoted it in a big way, it was widely accepted and adopted as a critical tool for response to the impact of climate change and successive droughts which had led to poor harvests in past seasons.
Conservation agriculture integrates a set of soil management practices aimed at minimising soil disturbance and maintaining a constant soil cover.
This large scale promotion of low input sustainable agriculture approach to enhance household food and nutrition security in the country, was made possible thanks to political will and the willingness of smallholder farmers at the grassroots to heed calls from the Government.
In the 2020 -2021 season, more than 1,1 million households across the country received inputs under the Government funded Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme.
Most farmers in various parts of the country got record yields following good rains that were received in most parts of the country.
The good harvest realised by Zimbabwe from the last farming season will help slash the import bill by US$300 million and spur economic growth this year.
Zimbabwe is expecting a total harvest of 2,8 million tonnes of maize and 360 000 tonnes of traditional grains from the past season as a result of the good rains and the record yields farmers got with support from the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme.
Good rains and the massive roll out of the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme has boosted the country’s food self-sufficiency levels and food security.
More than $25 billion has been paid to farmers by the Grain Marketing Board.
The grain agency has also made tremendous progress in reducing debts still owed to farmers.
Deliveries have also improved significantly compared to previous years.
By the end of August, GMB reported that it had received over 733 000 tonnes of grain from farmers valued at $26,9 billion.
The Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme has shone a bright spot in the country’s agricultural landscape, bringing hope and improved livelihoods.
Zimbabwe attained a bumper harvest, the highest yield in 20 years as a result of the normal to above normal rainfall received during the 2020/21 farming season.
The promise of good rains in the 2021/2022 has buoyed hopes for another good season.
The Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme, designed for small-scale farmers, will this season benefit 2,3 million households in the communal, A1, small-scale commercial farming and old resettlement sectors to produce cereals, oilseeds and legumes in the forthcoming summer cropping season.
This concept will be applied to maize, traditional grains and soyabeans.
About 1,5 million households are expected to plant 280 000 hectares of maize under Pfumvudza to produce 1,4 million tonnes of the crop.
The Government is targeting 540 000 households to put 103 680 hectares under sorghum to produce 487 296 tonnes.
For soyabeans, the Government is targeting 560 000 households to plant 20 000 hectares and produce 30 000 tonnes while 500 000 households are expected to plant 32 000 hectares of groundnuts and produce 32 000 tonnes.
About 260 000 households are expected to put 49 920 hectares under pearl millet and produce 124 800 tonnes.
Each farming household will get an input package comprising seeds massing 10kg maize, 5kg sorghum, 2kg pearl millet, 5kg soyabean, 2kg sunflower/castor bean (castor bean will be inter-cropped in the Pfumvudza crops for all crops) and 5kg sugar beans or 5kg cowpeas or roundnuts. Some farmers will get 5kg of summer wheat, long season variety, 2x50kg of Compound D fertiliser, 1x50kg top dressing fertiliser, and chemicals for fall armyworm or stalk borer.
The seed types and varieties will depend on the farming region.
Southern African climate experts have forecast normal to above normal rainfall in the coming 2021/2022 cropping season over most parts of the SADC region.
Adequate rains forecast for the coming season will have a positive impact on agriculture, water resources and hydro-power generation in Zimbabwe and most of the region.
However, experts warned that flooding, cyclones, leaching, outbreaks of locusts, fall army worm, damage of infrastructure in low-lying areas as well as outbreaks of water borne diseases such as malaria and cholera could pose problems for Zimbabwe and the region.
For Zimbabwe, improved rains this season were likely to further replenish ground and dam water resources bolstering water, food and energy security for the country.
Zimbabwe is expecting to surpass last year’s yields of some 1,8 million tonnes of maize and 200 000 tonnes of traditional grains on the back of better rains forecast in this season.
The threats of climate change are still real. Experts warn that Zimbabwe and South Africa could experience a fall in crop yields of up to 30 percent or more by 2050 if climate change is left unchecked.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that reduced crop productivity associated with heat and drought stress could have adverse effects on regional, national and household livelihoods and food security.
Zimbabwe and other African countries have drawn up climate change national action plans and strategies.
Climate change threatens to overwhelm the ability of people to cope and adapt, especially if the root causes of poverty and vulnerability are not addressed.
And, the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme coupled with good conservation farming techniques and correct agronomic practices could be the answer to the real threat that comes with climate change.
Source link : https://allafrica.com/stories/202110140400.html
Author : The Herald
Publish date : 2021-10-14 09:28:37