Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu and Leonard Ncube\, Chronicle Reporters
GOVERNMENT has started distributing farming inputs to Matabeleland provinces under the Intwasa/Pfumvudza programme before the onset of the rains expected to start next month.
Government introduced the Intwasa/ Pfumvudza programme to counter climate change-induced weather patterns that have seen the country enduring successive years of drought that resulted in poor harvests.
Government is encouraging zero tillage in areas that receive below average rains as the farming method helps to keep moisture.
One of the advantages of Intwasa/Pfumvudza is that it improves soil structure as there is minimum disruption to the soil. This means that more nutrients are preserved in the soil for plant growth resulting in high yields. Zero tillage also reduces erosion as it leaves more residue on the surface compared to the other farming method that involve completely turning the soil.
Having realised a bumper harvest last cropping season, the Government’s focus now is on mechanisation so that the country does not only produce for its consumption but also for export.
Government this coming season wants to also increase inputs beneficiaries from three million to five million.
Matabeleland South acting Provincial Agricultural Officer, Mr Mkhunjulelwa Ndlovu said so far about 20 000 farmers had prepared their land. He said training of farmers was underway and about 40 000 farmers in Matabeleland South have been trained under the zero-tillage agricultural programme.
He said arrival of the inputs will enable farmers to plant early this year. Mr Ndlovu said farmers will start receiving their inputs next week while the training programme continues.
“We have started receiving inputs in most of our districts in the province. The inputs started arriving last week and we expect to start distributing them to farmers next week. Before we begin distributing the inputs, we have to update our farmer’s registration which we will send to the GMB for distribution.
“We want to ensure that there is transparency in the distribution to avoid cheating. About 20 000 farmers have prepared their land and we will start by giving the inputs to these farmers,” he said.
Mr Ndlovu said last year 87 000 farmers benefited from the programme and this year they were targeting 107 000. He said this year each farmer will have inputs for five plots compared to last year’s three.
Mr Ndlovu said the training programme started last month but at a slow pace due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He said the programme had now gained momentum and training was expected to be completed by month end.
Mr Ndlovu said they want farmers to plant with the first rains so that they realise good yields.
Matabeleland North Provincial Agritex officer Mr Dumisani Nyoni said the province had also started receiving inputs under the Intwasa/Pfumvudza farming programme.
Mr Nyoni said distribution is yet to take place and he will be having a detailed report of how much grain and cereal seed as well as fertilisers have been delivered during the course of the week.
“We have started receiving Intwasa inputs as a province but we haven’t started distributing as we are still receiving. I cannot say how much has been received as that information will be availed on Tuesday,” he said.
Mr Nyoni encouraged farmers to start preparing for planting to enable them to plant with the first rains. Climate experts have forecast normal to above normal rainfall for the 2021/22 cropping season for most Sadc countries including Zimbabwe.