Crops are generally in good condition with the favourable rains falling, and the early planted crops, both from Pfumvudza and the other programmes, doing well.
However, the heavy rains have made it harder to keep up with weeding and the application of herbicides and top-dressing fertilisers.
Top dressing fertiliser, ammonium nitrate or urea, tends to be in short supply, with the few shops having stocks selling it at between $31 000 and $39 000 a bag, or US$33 and US$37, depending on location and type of the product.
Masvingo province is currently satisfactory with the early and water planted Pfumvudza staple maize doing exceptionally well despite water logging in some areas due to excessive rains.
In Masvingo district and surrounding areas the Pfumvudza maize crop planted when good rains started falling was in late vegetative stage or early reproductive stage.
Prospects of a bumper harvest this season remain high in a province where farmers usually receive poor rains.
There are reports of widespread leaching, with farmers in all seven districts wanting more top-dressing fertiliser.
Provincial Agritex officer Mr Aaron Muchazivepi confirmed that the crops were in good shape and pointed to a bumper harvest barring persistent shortage of top dressing fertiliser.
Mr Muchazivepi noted that water logging was a challenge for some farmers, but the general picture was highly positive.
“Generally the rains have been good. We have received above normal rainfall in most of our districts and Pfumvudza plots are doing well save for areas where there is water logging. Leaching has been recorded in all the districts, there is urgent need for top dressing fertiliser. Most of our crops are in the late vegetative and reproductive stage but we can say all the districts have some plots which are water logged and without top dressing our crops will not yield the desired harvests,” said Mr Muchazivepi.
But he expected this year’s harvest to be way above that of last year.
In Mashonaland West, planting of the major crops of maize, soya bean, cotton and tobacco is complete. Acting provincial Agritex officer Mrs Evelyn Ndoro said most farmers were now planting minor crops like sugar beans, sorghum, cowpeas and sweet-potatoes.
“The early-planted maize crop is at reproductive stage whilst the bulk of the crop is at late vegetative stage. Soya bean is at vegetative stage while ground nuts are at flowering. Crop condition for all crops ranges from fair to very good. Some crops in parts of Ngezi, Sanyati and Mhondoro communal areas have been affected by excessive rains,” she said.
A total of 87 189 farmers have been assisted to grow their crops through the Government initiative climate proofing programme commonly known as Intwasa/Pfumvudza.
The province has surpassed its maize target of 270 000 hectares as 271 608ha was under the crop by last week.
Mrs Ndoro said the major challenges being faced by most farmers include top-dressing fertiliser but said distribution for the command programme had started to take shape this week, with farmers receiving supplies to help address the nitrogen deficiency.
“Most Pfumvudza plots are in good condition and we expect bumper harvests for most farmers in the province.”
While generally the crops were in good shape in all districts there had been reports from Makonde, Hurungwe and Zvimba districts that some fields had been flooded and there were gullies, rivulets and silt deposits.
Matabeleland South provincial Agritex officer Mr Mkhunjulelwa Ndlovu said distribution of ammonium nitrate (AN) fertilizer was ongoing and that some farmers were still procuring chemicals to spray against the fall-army worm.
“It’s too early to speak about the expected yield, but generally most crops are looking good. We have had isolated cases of water logging although we are confident that most crops will do well,” said Mr Ndlovu.
The Pfumvudza programme was successfully implemented in Mashonaland Central with most farmers who undertook the concept having a good maize crop.
Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka visited Nyabvuti Farm in Guruve where Vice President Constantino Chiwenga launched the Pfumvudza programme and was impressed by the good condition of the maize crop on the 2ha of the launch plot.
The farmer, Mrs Netsai Kanamazazi and her husband Mr Abel Masunga, said they practise Pfumvudza every year and they never go hungry.
The provincial agronomist Mr Izah Jaide said the condition of the Pfumvudza crop across the province is good. Agritex were waiting for a crop assessment report to be concluded soon for more details.
A total of 18 783 training sessions on Pfumvudza were conducted across the province and 817 demonstration plots were established. About 237 537 farmers finished holing, 104 377 gathered mulch and 4 481 had their soil tested for pH.
Midlands Provincial Crop and Livestock Officer Mrs Madeline Magwenzi said crops were still good in most parts of the province save for some parts of Gweru districts where leaching was beginning to become a problem.
“From our assessment and reports from our Agritex officers, the crop situation is still pleasing in the province but we had some parts in Gweru district which were beginning to be affected by leaching. We urge our farmers to continue working hand in hand with local Agritex officers,” she said.
Dr Masuka sees the huge uptake of Intwasa/Pfumvudza as contributing in a major way to what is now expected to be a huge harvest, The programme was oversubscribed with 2,3 million households registering, which is 500 000 more than the Government target of 1,8 million.
Pfumvudza/Intwasa promotes climate proofing agriculture by adopting conservation farming techniques and it involves the use of small plots and application of the correct agronomic practices for higher returns.
Government introduced the farming initiative during the present summer cropping season to gain multiple benefits: better farm incomes, moving a large block of households out of total poverty, returning Zimbabwe to food self-sufficiency and slashing imports.
Speaking to ZBC News this week, Dr Masuka said the abundant rains being received countrywide have raised hopes of a bumper harvest, with the Government optimistic that this season’s targets will be achieved through the successful implementation of the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme.
“We are now in the process of delivering fertiliser. Focus now is on applying the fertiliser and scouting for army worms to ensure nothing compromises the yields,” he said.
“We expect 2,8 million tonnes of maize. We hope that will be enough to feed the nation and get us a surplus.”