Rumbidzayi Zinyuke in Buhera
The conservation agriculture programme, Pfumvudza, has changed the lives of small scale farmers in Zimbabwe’s rural areas where some farmers have recorded the highest yields in years.
Pfumvudza is a concept that is aimed at climate proofing agriculture by adopting conservation farming techniques and involves the utilisation of small pieces of land and applying the correct agronomic practices for higher returns.
Under the programme 1,6 million households in the country are expected to contribute 1,6 million tonnes of maize towards strengthening the Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) while 800 000 households are expected to produce between 90 000 and 100 000 tonnes of soya.
The programme, coupled with good rains received this season, brought relief to farmers in areas that had been affected by droughts in previous years.
Gogo Margaret Marerwa from Goto village in Wedza district is expecting to deliver six tonnes of maize to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) this year.
She said this was the best harvest she had recorded in years.
“This year, I had half of my crop under Pfumvudza and the other half was ploughed normally, but I realised that the crop under Pfumvudza did very well.
“The fact that we received good rains also helped us to record such a good harvest,” she said.
Gogo Marerwa said she would definitely increase the area under Pfumvudza this year to ensure she got a better harvest next season.
However, she added, the Government needed to improve the programme by ensuring farmers received inputs on time.
“Although we recorded a good harvest, we could have done more if we had received the inputs early. Some farmers only received their fertilisers in January when the crop was already at tasseling stage so we are asking our Government to ensure that we get all the inputs at the same time before the rainy season commences.
“This will help us to start preparing and planting as soon as we receive the rain,” added Gogo Marerwa.
She urged other farmers to join the Pfumvudza programme to ensure food security for everyone
Mr Raphael Chinyamakobvu from Goto Chikore village said: “This was our first time growing maize using this method and we did fairly well. Part of the crop was ploughed and a small plot done under the Pfumvudza.
“Today, I am delivering two tonnes to GMB but I have another 1,5 tonnes for my family back at home. I can say I have enough to sustain us until next harvest,” he said.
He said they would increase the area under Pfumvudza next season so that they could sell more maize.
“If we get our inputs early, I am certain we will harvest more next year because this programme works,” he said.
In Buhera, a drought prone district, many farmers who were part of the programme said they had also recorded a good harvest.
Mr Tongoona Marume from Murambinda said the programme had saved many families from hunger this year.
“We experienced droughts for three consecutive seasons and last year, we received too much rains which destroyed a lot of crops. For farmers who joined the Pfumvudza program, they had a good harvest. We are grateful for this initiative,” he said.
Buhera District Development Coordinator Mr Freeman Mavhiza said the program had helped alleviate hunger in many households in the district.
“Although some of our farmers were affected by leeching owing to heavy rains, those who had a crop under Pfumvudza fared much better. We are hopeful that if they continue with this programme, we can guarantee food security for all communities,” he said.
Climate change has negatively impacted on food production and the Pfumvudza programme is part of an agriculture recovery plan to boost productivity.
Under Pfumvudza, farmers do not need vast tracts of land to be food self-sufficient and they practise crop rotation to keep the soil productive.