Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
GOVERNMENT is making efforts to promote traditional crop varieties by establishing seed banks in communities with the ultimate objective of enhancing food security.
The programme is hinged on the Presidential Input Scheme and Intwasa/Pfumvudza conservation farming.
Communities are being encouraged to grow crops that are suitable for their respective ecological regions.
This will also help preserve traditional drought resistant crop varieties that were almost disappearing as farmers had adopted commercial crops at the expense of varieties that were grown by their ancestors.
Some of these crops include rapoko, millet, cow peas, groundnuts, and other drought resistant varieties.
In Matabeleland North, seeds and food fairs were held in Bhubhude, Tsholotsho where a community seed bank was launched recently while another was held in Jambezi, Hwange district on Tuesday.
Through the programme, farmers are being encouraged to bring out all traditional crop seeds they have and showcase them and be able to exchange for varieties they do not have.
Traditional leaders have welcomed the programme as a positive way of preserving food varieties from going extinct and resuscitating Isiphala Senkosi.
Hwange district Agritex Officer Mr Kurwakumire Mangwiro who presided over a seed and food fair in Jambezi said the idea is to encourage sharing of crop varieties, especially those suitable for particular ecological regions.
“Farmers are bringing different varieties and showcasing them and this results in them exchanging with varieties they don’t have. We want farmers to have a seed bank and share inputs and information as well.
“This is part of the Presidential Input Schemes and we are encouraging every village head to have a farmer field school where lead farmers who have been trained by extension officers should cascade the training to community members so they are capacitated with land preparation, procurement and marketing skills,” said Mr Mangwiro.
He said the programme is taking place across the country where farmers have been trained on Intwasa conservation farming method.
“Farmers have been trained on Pfumvudza concept and now we are moving a step further to preserve varieties.
“Each village head in Zimbabwe should have a farmer field school where farmers learn and produce food for Isiphala Senkosi,” he said.
Chief Shana of Jambezi welcomed the programme and encouraged his subjects to embrace it as it will enhance food security.
“All village heads should embrace this programme and have a plot through which they will get inputs and after harvesting we replenish Isiphala Senkosi. This should be the last time we have drought as we move towards food security,” he said.
Chief Gampu of Tsholotsho said the programme will also help preserve cultural dishes and practices that had been overshadowed by modernisation.
“The seed bank will help remobilise those kinds of foods we had abandoned. There are foods we used to eat growing up which are no longer there because we no longer grow them but this programme will surely bring them back,” he said. – @ncubeleon