Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Chronicle Reporter
FARMERS in Matabeleland South Province are optimistic of a bumper harvest following the timeous distribution of inputs under the Intwasa/Pfumvudza programme.
The province received its first rains this week which marked the start of the planting process for most farmers.
Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Abedinico Ncube launched the Presidential Input Scheme at Ntshamathe Village in Umzingwane where 131 farmers received inputs last Friday.
They received a package comprising 50kg ammonium nitrate and compound D fertilizers, 10kgs maize seed, 2kgs sunflower, vegetables seeds, 2.5kgs fodder seed and 5kgs cowpeas.
Over 2 million farmers have been trained countrywide under the Government’s Intwasa/Pfumvudza Programme set to help farmers yield enough to guarantee food security.
This year Government has set a target of putting 2,8 million hectares under maize and traditional grains during the 2021/22 summer cropping season. Government is targeting 540 000 households to put 103 630 hectares under sorghum to produce 487 296 tonnes.
For soya beans, Government is targeting 560 000 households to plant 20 000 hectares and produce 30 000 tonnes while 500 000 households are expected to plant 32 000 hectares of groundnuts and produce 32 000 tonnes.
About 260 000 households are expected to put 49 9920 hectares under pearl millet and produce 124 800 tonnes.
A Matabeleland farmer who benefited from the government’s inputs programme, Mr Ernest Mpofu (81) from Umzingwane said he was looking forward to a good yield now that he had received inputs. He said he had finished preparing his land.
“I’m glad that I have received my inputs as that means I can start planting. I have finished preparing my land. This time the inputs came on time which has made things easier for us as farmers.
The youth should be active under the Intwasa programme as they still have the power. This year I have prepared five plots while last year I had three plots which means that this year I will produce more. I’m grateful for the seed that I got from Government.
We have been experiencing droughts year in year out but under the Pfumvudza programme the situation has changed,” he said.
Mr Gift Moyo from Sizeze area in Gwanda said he had started planting after their area received rains at the beginning of last week. He said since inputs arrived early, it means that farmers will be able to put them to good use.
He said he expects an improved yield this year.
Speaking during the launch of the provincial Intwasa/Pfumvudza scheme Minister Ncube urged farmers to embrace the programme.
“Umzingwane District is in Region 4 which is characterised by recurrent droughts which affect both crop and livestock production. In addition, inter seasonal dry spells often occur during the rainy season and during critical periods of crop growth. Intwasa has been implemented to improve foo, security, the livelihood of farmers and to increase productivity,” he said.
“I encourage farming households to embrace Intwasa. Previously only basins were used, however in the current season we encourage mechanised Intwasa like ripping, use of direct seeders which are animal drawn so as to reduce labour needs while increasing production.”
Minister Ncube said the Intwasa programme had gone further to curb high livestock poverty deaths through fodder production.
He urged farmers to utilise the fodder seed from Government to increase livestock production.
Minister Ncube also urged farmers to principles of Intwasa which include minimum soil disturbance, crop rotation and mulching. He reminded farmers that agriculture was the backbone of the country’s economy and its success requires collective efforts from farmers.
Matabeleland South acting provincial agricultural officer, Mr Mkhunjulelwa Ndlovu said they had trained 85 100 farmers under the Pfumvudza programme against a target of 120 000 farmers. He said they plan to train all farmers in the province.
Mr Ndlovu said 83 200 farmers had finished preparing their land. He said most farmers started planting last week after receiving rains.
“All farmers must be trained because the objective is to maximise production and productivity in order to address food and nutrition security.
“Our target is to train 120 000 farmers but so far, we have trained 85 100 but the training is still ongoing. This year we expect improved yields because each farmers has five plots compared to three plots last year,” he said.
Mr Ndlovu said the process of distributing inputs was ongoing. He said they had engaged the Zimbabwe National Army to assist in transporting seed from GMB deports to different wards across the province.
Government adopted Intwasa/Pfumvudza to address the problem of low productivity which continued to negatively affect food security in Zimbabwe.
The concept promotes climate proofing agriculture by adopting conservation farming techniques and it involves the utilisation of small pieces of land and application of the correct agronomic practices for higher returns. –@DubeMatutu