Training key to Pfumvudza success

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THE news that Zimbabwe is one of the SADC countries expected to receive normal to above normal rainfall through this farming season should encourage farmers, regardless of size, to roll up their sleeves.

Small wonder, the main focus should be on those involved in the conservation agricultural technique (Pfumvudza/Intwasa).

For the bulk of our farmers are in this category of small scale farmers.

The Government is targeting over three million people on the small-scale farms for assistance.

This means an addition of  at least another 1,2 million small scale farmers from last year. 

It has already been proven that, with Pfumvudza, food and nutritional security are within the nation’s grasp, if the season is good.

But to achieve this, there is need for meticulous preparation. 

This task falls on the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement to give these farmers good training.

It is, therefore, imperative for this Ministry to provide suitable personnel to give guidance.

With the farming season fast approaching, extension officers have to work hard to see to it that all those who qualify to be Pfumvudza beneficiaries are ready soon.

This is best done through physical visits to the plots of these small-scale farmers.

We are told preparations by most farmers on the Pfumvudza Programme have reached an advanced stage.

The good thing is that this programme has already been in operation for some time now. 

Of the three million small scale farmers registered for this conservation agriculture scheme, at least 1,5 million have already undergone training.

This means the extension officers have to  concentrate on newcomers, delegating some duties to graduates already doing well.  

With inputs distribution determined by the agro-ecological regions, advice by extension officers on how to allocate seeds is crucial.

In region three and perhaps four, maize should take two thirds of the agricultural land with a third going to small grains, sunflower and sugar beans.

Drought prone Matabeleland should be the major beneficiary of small grains.

With each villager expected to have at least three small Pfumvudza plots, the training programme has to be quite intensive.

Emphasis should be on mulching and addition of farmyard manure.

Only those farmers who would have shown willingness to comply with requirements should be beneficiaries of the inputs scheme.

While experienced farmers are expected to revisit the previous year’s planting holes, new ones have at least some referral points.

The task is not easy but once carried out properly, results have been encouraging.

In order to complete digging the planting holes and fulfilling all the requirements, it is useful for those in the same neighbourhood to join hands.

Villagers will move from family to family as one team, clearing the ground and digging the planting holes through a practice called gumwe, nhimbe or majakwara.

Of course, depending on the family’s capability, Pfumvudza plots can be increased up to five or more per family.

The key guide is that it is not the size of the land used, but the quality of the land preparation which will determine the yield.

There are always complains of inputs arriving late.

But we are told this is a thing of the past.

We are also happy to hear of the introduction of the online platform to curb inputs abuse.

This system is expected to improve accountability on the part of the recipients and distributors.

Efforts to improve the distribution chain should witness a greater level of transparency and accountability.

We hope that all those along the distribution chain won’t disappoint.

We wish our Pfumvudza/Intwasa farmers a very successful farming season.

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