Communal upstage commercial farmers

LIVINGSTONE MARUFU

Zimbabwe’s communal farmers have emerged as the cornerstone of the maize farming sub-sector after smashing production records largely due to a well-co-ordinated distribution of inputs under the Pfumvudza programme, Business Times can report.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement minister, Anxious Masuka, told Business Times that the communal farmers, who are projected to contribute 36% or 988 782 tonnes of the total output, played a critical role in the food self-sufficiency of the country.

Al farmers are projected to contribute 26% which represented 706 372 tonnes while A2 farmers will haul in 24% 670,785 tonnes. The peri-urban farmers will contribute 15 526 tonnes which is 1%. The balance was contributed by other sub-sectors.

“National maize production is dominated by the communal sector and this is attributed to an increase in the amount of rainfall received, which was well distributed throughout the season and increase in the area under climate proofed technologies and initiatives Pfumvudza/ Intwasa,” Masuka said.

The development saw the country’s maize national average yield per hectare surging 144% to 1.39 tonnes per hectare   during the 2020/2021 summer cropping season from 0.57 tonnes per hectare last year following the good rains that have characterised the better part of the season.

Consequently, the country is expecting a surplus of over 800,000 metric tonnes from an estimated output of 2.71m tonnes this year with a climate proof initiative known as Pfumvudza topping the charts with 1.06m tonnes.

Zimbabwe planted  over 1.951m hectares  and managed to get 2.7m tonnes while last year the country managed to plant 1.5m hectares of maize and managed to harvest 0.907m tonnes.

Under Pfumvudza farmers planted 202,037 hectares and attained an average yield of 5.28 tonnes per hectare resulting in the yield of 1.06m.

With the exclusion of Pfumvudza the national average yield stood at 1.16 tonnes per hectare.

 Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Shadreck Makombe said the well-coordinated and early distribution of inputs helped communal farmers to do well.

“We have learnt that with all inputs on time and proper funding the small-scale farmers can do well,” Makombe said.

Government is targeting to increase Zimbabwe’s maize yield to five tonnes per hectare through various initiatives aimed at commercialising cereal production.

Agriculture ministry has moved to empower extension officers by giving them  Commercial Maize Production Field Guide which will help  local farmers not only adopt good farming practices but increase their productivity to above average potential of local hybrids.

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