Government is pushing for the mechanisation of the a climate proof conservative farming method, Pfumvudza/ Intwasa as part of measures to boost production, Lands and Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka has said.
Zimbabwe had become a perennial net importer of cereal grains averaging US$800m annually.
However, in the just ended farming season, Zimbabwe experienced a bumper harvest, achieving over five tonnes per hectare, thanks to the good rains and the Pfumvudza/ Intwasa concept.
“There is need to mechanise conservation agriculture [Pfumvudza / Intwasa] to sustain its adoption and help improve productivity in smallholder agriculture,” Masuka said.
He added: “There is a need to upscale and increase support for climate-proofing technologies such as Pfumvudza / Intwasa by water harvesting, irrigation rehabilitation and development to climate proof agriculture and sustain the production and productivity gains among the smallholder farming sector in future seasons.”
When the government founded the conservative farming initiative, an average family of four to six required a bucket of maize every week and could produce food to last it a whole year on a small piece of land.
Buoyed by a milestone success, the authorities now want the programme to be boosted by the inclusion of machinery.
The strategy was to enable a family to get a tonne from the smallest possible piece of land.
A farmer can also irrigate crops using a bucket and get a bumper harvest as opposed to planting maize on a large area without adequate resources and end up getting one bucket or less per hectare.
During the 2020/2021 summer cropping season, farmers were boosted by adequate rains but the premature ending of the season in March is pushing the government to set up some small irrigation facilities for farmers.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Shadreck Makombe said the move to mechanise the climate proof method would save space and time.
“Last year, a lot of time was consumed by digging holes but with the introduction of machinery into the programme, brilliant results will be achieved without much effort being put. This will be in line with smart agriculture that we want the whole country to adopt,” Makombe said.
According to the Second and Final Livestock and Crop Assessment Report only Mudzi and Rushinga areas failed to get the desired results.
This is feasible if we borrow ideas from gurus in agriculture such as the Chinese, the European Union and countries in the Middle East, the report said.
The Pfumvudza/ Intwasa programme was instrumental in pushing the maize national average yield to surge by 144% to reach 1.39 tonnes per hectare during the 2020/2021 summer cropping season from 0.57 tonnes per hectare last year.
The country has recorded a surplus of over 800,000 metric tonnes after recording a 2.71m tonnes this year with Pfumvudza/ Intwasa topping the charts with 1.06m tonnes.