COMMENT: Let’s unite to take Pfumvudza/Intwasa to another level

02 Jun, 2022 - 00:06 0 Views
COMMENT: Let’s unite to take Pfumvudza/Intwasa to another level Dr John Basera

The Chronicle

The Government rolled out the Pfumvudza/Intwasa climate-proofed farming model ahead of the 2020/21 summer season.

The objective was to ensure greater national food security. It entailed the Government providing free inputs to about 1,8 million households for them to work small pieces of land under a prescribed system. Farmers had to hole out the small plots, mulch the planting stations and wait for the rains for them to plant, apply appropriate fertilisers, weed as prescribed and generally look after their pieces of land.

The country was blessed to have normal to above normal rainfall in that season and the result was 2,7 million tonnes of maize, the biggest harvest of the staple in 20 years. That harvest meant the country had enough for human and livestock consumption in that year, and a surplus.

Fertiliser

More farmers were enrolled on the conservation agriculture model during the 2021/22 season. Unfortunately the rains were very low for a good harvest but reports say farmers who practised Pfumvudza/Intwasa had better harvests than those who used the more conventional method of cultivation.

A study by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) and World Bank, as we report elsewhere today, says Pfumvudza/Intwasa has helped improve household food security in the country with 86 percent of respondents saying the model has made a positive impact on their yields.

The rapid Poverty, Income, Consumption and Expenditure Survey (PICES) Round Six whose results were released last Thursday says:

“It was also noted nationally that 86 percent of households who participated in the Pfumvudza/Intwasa Programme were satisfied with the programme.”

Farmers

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary, Dr John Basera, yesterday expressed the Government’s happiness that the concept got such a high approval rating.

“The findings speak to the benefits and the realisation of the importance of the concept by farmers,” he said.

“As the ministry, we are enthused by the approval ratings. We are confident that the seal of approval will inspire other households to join in and also encourage current participants to do more to ensure food security at household and national level.”

Of course, the size of the 2020/21 harvest was clear evidence of the efficacy of the Pfumvudza/Intwasa production model.  The findings of the ZimStat-World Bank emphasise that point. That is the reason why the Government must stick to it. Without Pfumvudza-Intwasa, we are sure that the country would not have harvested so big last year.

Pfumvudza Intwasa fields

Without it, we don’t think the country would have harvested 1,7 million tonnes of maize in a season that was so dry as the immediate past one. Effective rains fell very late into the 2021/22 season, around December.

And just as crops were beginning to thrive, a prolonged mid-season drought set in from January to February. We have known mid-season droughts to be a January tradition, but this term’s extended to the end of February. When rains fell later, it was too late for some crops in some areas.

However, pieces of land that had been worked under Pfumvudza/Intwasa held on.

This model is ideal in a world where climate change is posing new challenges to rain-fed agriculture. For that reason and more, the Government must continue assisting farmers with inputs and encouraging them to apply the conservation techniques.

However, as we do that, authorities, the private sector, farmers and development partners must intensify the ongoing drive to promote irrigated production. That makes the business of crop production surer and harvests much more bountiful than when we wait for the rains to fall to start working the land.

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