The government of Zimbabwe is set to train nearly 2 million farmers in conservation agriculture. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and Foundations for Farming (FfF) have been training government extension staff to implement the Pfumvudza concept which comprises CA practices to help bring food self-sufficiency to Zimbabwe.
It is hoped that the project will address the problems of low levels of productivity and production, making the country’s farmers and households more resilient to climate shocks and ultimately ensuring food security in Zimbabwe. The scheme also offers real potential for commercialization by encouraging smallholder farmers to produce surplus food to earn a regular income. Pfumvudza is a crop production intensification approach under which farmers ensure the efficient use of resources (inputs and labour) on a small area of land to optimize its management.
“Pfumvudza means a new season of increased productivity; it is a season of producing more on less land and with less resources; a season of climate proofing our agriculture through the adoption of Conservation Agriculture,” said Agriculture Ministry Secretary John Basera.
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Climate-proofed Presidential Inputs Scheme
Basera noted this made Pfumvudza unique is the size of the plot used: at just 16m x 39m the plot is small enough to easily prepare, small enough to manage with mulch, small enough to weed, and even small enough to water by hand with harvested rainwater in the event of a mid-season dry spell or drought.
The concept has been successful in helping farmers to produce grains including maize, sorghum and millet, while it also encourages the rotation of legumes such as beans, ground nuts or cowpeas. According to Matthew Mbanga, CEO of FfF Trust, the secret to the project’s success has been its scalability. Conservation Agriculture drastically reduces the workload for farmers and limiting the size of plots makes it even more manageable.
All 1.8 million beneficiaries of the Presidential Inputs Scheme, now called the Climate-proofed Presidential Inputs Scheme, are each expected to establish three Pfumvudza plots over the 2020/21 agricultural season. The government’s objective is to climate proof the agricultural production of smallholder farmers who make up 80% of farmers in Zimbabwe and ensure food self-sufficiency for the nation.