Bubi granny showcases Intwasa glory at ZITF
Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
WITH a cheerful smile, Ms Hlengiwe Ncube (60) from Siganda area in Bubi District, Matabeleland North Province, could not hide her excitement as she stood near a table on which a variety of crops are being showcased at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo.
From her land covering about two hectares, Ms Ncube managed to yield a productive harvest of two tonnes of maize and a tonne of sorghum under the Government sponsored Intwasa/Pfumvudza programme.
It took a countless number of visits to her rural home by Agritex officers to try and convince Ms Ncube to adopt conservation agriculture. Despite being initially sceptical about adopting the Intwasa farming model, Ms Ncube has today managed to write a success farming story. A single mother of seven, she is among a group of 800 farmers from the Matabeleland region who are participating in a farming competition at the ZITF where they are showcasing good agronomic practices under the crop segment (maize category).
There are nine categories which are: craft, small grains, maize, vegetables, cabbages, onions, cotton, pumpkins and poultry.
In determining the winners under the maize category, the judges will be looking at the shape of the crop, uniformity in terms of grains, the quality of crop, the colours, display style and the size of the cobs, among other things.
The Bulawayo Agricultural Society (BAS) is co-ordinating the competition at the Bulawayo Agricultural Show, which runs concurrently with the ZITF.
Ms Ncube said when the Government introduced Intwasa in March last year, she was sceptical.
“When the Intwasa programme was introduced last year, I had no interest in it because it was something new to me. But the agricultural extension officers kept visiting to explain about the concept until I eventually decided to give it a try,” she said.
“Today, I am so proud of this programme because I managed to recorded a bumper harvest of two tonnes of maize and another tonne of sorghum after benefiting from the Presidential Input Scheme.”
Ms Ncube said she managed to perfect the art of conservation agriculture after receiving support and extensive training from Agritex officers who have been working with farmers in Bubi district to increase the uptake of conservation agriculture.
The Intwasa farming concept increases yields while protecting fields from erosion, improving soil quality and mitigating the effects of drought. The aim of Intwasa is to maximise productivity per unit area, even during drought periods, to ensure household and national food and nutritional security. It involves the utilisation of small pieces of land and applying the correct agronomic practices for higher returns.
The approach can be used in marginal areas and still give high yields. Having successfully implemented Intwasa and a bumper harvest, Ms Ncube decided to showcase varieties of her harvested maize at the Bulawayo Agricultural Show.
“I urge farmers to adopt this concept so that we boost food security at household level. I am proud to be showcasing a variety of my maize crop at the Bulawayo Agricultural Show,” said Ms Ncube.
“Looking at the quality of my crop, I am confident that I will be among the winners.”
According to agriculture experts, Intwasa ensures food self-sufficiency. An average family of four to six requires a bucket of maize every week and with Intwasa they can produce food to last them a whole year on a small piece of land.
Through the Intwasa concept, 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.
The president of BAS, Mr Isaac Moyo, said the organisation was set up to promote agricultural shows as a teaching/learning platform for all.
“We showcase all forms of livestock, which include cattle, sheep and goats, pigs, poultry and horses, crop produce inclusive of maize, small grains and cereals as well as fruit and vegetables for the communal farmer, home industries incorporating needlework, knitting, home-craft and artwork,” he said. -@mashnets