Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
A Chirumhanzu couple in their 70s has become the envy of the community after excelling in implementing the climate proof Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme.
Just looking at the husband and wife, who both now use sticks to aid them when walking, one would not associate them with hard work.
However, through their dedication, Mr Silvester Mombe (78) and his wife Mrs Harerai Mombe (70) of Charandura village are now among experts of the Pfumvudza/Intwasa farming concept in Chirumhanzu District.
To them age is nothing but a number because they are still hands-on as they take to the fields to dig holes and add mulch in preparation of planting.
Government recognised their outstanding performance through launching the provincial climate proof Pfumvudza/ Intwasa programme at their homestead last Friday.
Mrs Mombe said last season they managed to produce nearly 1, 5 tonnes of maize; 400 kgs of sorghum; 800 kgs of groundnuts and 200 kgs of cowpeas.
“It’s been a long journey as we have been practising this method of farming for years. We started with some NGOs who taught us this way of farming. As fate would have it, all our cattle died which made us perfect the art of farming. All our children have left the homestead, leaving the two of us to manage our small land.
We get enough for food and excess for selling which makes it easy for us to get our essentials,” she said.
Mrs Mombe said with a walking stick in her left hand, she uses her right hand to easily dig the holes and put mulch among other things.
“It’s a matter of digging holes which we can do. We obviously hire some villagers when it comes to looking for and bringing mulch to the plots but we are hands-on, we will be there making sure things are done properly,” she said.
Mr Mombe said Government had made Pfumvudza /Intwasa easier by providing free inputs to those willing to participate.
“Well we have been practising this my child. It’s been a journey to be frank. The coming on board of Government through provision of inputs has seen us growing our yield in a big way. We want to thank the President as this year we have since increased our hectarage after Government also increased our inputs.
It’s a huge boost,” he said.
Mr Mombe said as they are only the two of them at home, they always have excess in term of food. He said they also pay other villagers who come to assist them using grains from the Pfumvudza/Intwasa yields.
“This is working for us because we don’t lack food. If in need of money we sell some of the produce,” he said.
Charandura area Agriculture Extension Officer Mrs Letween Mataro said Mr and Mrs Mombe were hands-on despite their age.
“They have adopted all conservation agriculture principles that is minimum soil disturbance, mulching, timelines of operations and good agricultural practices. These two are hard workers, good listeners and can easily accept ideas. They work hard with little supervision that’s why they produce good results and bumper harvest. I am very proud of them because they are among my best farmers,” she said.
“I also want to emphasise that conservation agriculture has nothing to do with age but passion. They are old but managed to finish all plots. They are good in holing, manuring, basal dressing application, mulching. Planting is in progress now and they are more than ready.”
Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Larry Mavima who officiated during the provincial launch held at the Mombes homestead said Pfumvudza/Intwasa concept is meant to offer food security for households.
“Let us capitalise on this Pfumvudza/Intwasa concept, that we will then use back home to improve productivity of our agriculture land. Climate change has impacted negatively on crop production in recent years,” he said.
Producing cereals for household consumption, he said, is a priority for smallholder farmers in the Midlands Province.
“The Pfumvudza/Intwasa concept is a simple, profound agricultural innovation, with a serious macro-economic development potential. It aims at utilising small area, conserving moisture for the crop and improves crop productivity,” he said.
“Preparations of Pfumvudza/Intwasa plots are in progress, with farmers encouraged to gather mulch, so as to improve farmer’s yield. This is clearly displayed here in Mr and Mrs Mombe’s fields. This is a wonderful launch showing that the digging of holes is very possible, even with the 80-year-olds. This is impressive,” he said.
Minister Mavima said 433 698 households have dug plots ranging from one to five plots in rural and urban areas.
“This is commendable, please do not be left behind, make sure that you dig too to benefit according to policy. The new dispensation has capacitated Agricultural Extension Officers with motorbikes for the easy outreach of the farmers and tablets for easy information dissemination to farmers for improved productivity and production,” he said.
Chirumhanzu South MP Barbra Rwodzi said: “We are saying let’s embrace this programme which aims to improve our lives. The President has made it clear that everyone will be catered for as we focus on Vision 2030.
Those who can’t manage the concept due to old age and disabilities will be helped through the District Development Fund and other programmes. We are happy that Zunde raMambo/ Isiphala Senkosi is back and we want the leaders to lead by example in that area.”