‘Increase organic fertiliser uptake’

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alle oorskot plantmateriaal word gebruik om daagliks die komposhoop aan te vul. Hierdie kompos word in die lente en herfs toegedien.

AS preparations for the 2016/2017 cropping season intensify, agriculture stakeholders have been urged to partner and come up with intensive ways of maximising production through use of organic fertilisers which improve yields and add to soil fertility.
This is part of efforts by stakeholders to encourage farmers to adopt other methods of farming that ensure maximum yields despite getting inadequate rains.
Issues of inadequate funding, high costs of production and failure by farmers to access advanced machinery have been cited as the major drawbacks in the sector.
The change in rainfall patterns has also resulted in poor yields since some farmers do not have access to irrigation facilities.
Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union’s second vice-president, Berean Mukwende, said most farmers were now relying on organic fertilisers, hence the need to explore the methods at commercial levels.
“Farmers have expressed interest in using organic methods than the modern ways which have proven to be cost effective and provide better yields,” he said.
He said the cost of modern farming inputs had proven to be beyond the reach of many commercial farmers as many were facing financial problems.
“Government must start collaborating with scientists who will help in disseminating information on farming methods that will help revive our agriculture,” Mukwende said.
He commended organisations that were equipping farmers with the knowledge on the use of organic fertilisers.
“Farmers in areas such as Matabeleland and Mashonaland have received training from various organisations on how to put into practice the organic methods for better farming outputs,” he said.
He urged farmers to continue embracing the methods as they can provide the formula to increase yields.
“We have received positive feedback from farmers who have embraced organic farming as they have said the modern way of using artificial inputs was expensive and most communal farmers could afford them,” he said.
Over the years, most farmers have changed from their traditional proven ways of farming, favouring the new modern artificial methods such as use of artificial fertilisers.
Other traditional methods farmers can adopt include conservation farming.
Conservation farming is a concept for resource-saving agricultural crop production that strives to achieve acceptable profits together with high and sustained production levels while conserving the environment.
This type of farming helps in soil and water conservation by reducing erosion, runoff and overall improving conditions for plant growth.
Conservation farming includes a number of components and practices such as zero tillage, contour and stubble farming, alley cropping, crop rotation and trap cropping, among many others.
Zero tillage involves planting crops directly onto land which is protected by a mulch using minimum or no tillage techniques.
Some farmers have in the past cleared off mulch which helps reduce soil erosion and water runoff while improving the soil’s fertility.
Increased food production is not only expected to impact at household level but go further and contribute to the national efforts of achieving food security.
The country requires 1 800 000 metric tonnes of grain and 450 000 tonnes of wheat annually.
However, over the past decades, the sector has failed to meet these targets, resulting in the country which was once a surplus crop producer becoming a net food importer.
Conservation farming has many benefits not only in food production but also in preserving the environment.
“Conservation agriculture addresses the problem of low erratic rainfall through the use of technologies that reduce water losses and increase infiltration and low soil nutrient status by reducing top soil loss and increasing soil carbon and nitrogen through the use of organic soil cover and legume in rotations and interactions,” he said.
Conservation agriculture is an African initiative which presents great opportunities for attracting investment and resources for adaptation in the agricultural sector.
Agriculture experts say conservation farming could help the country reach food sustainability and authorities are targeting 500 000 farmers to practise conservation agriculture on over 250 000 hectares of land.
To achieve this target, Government has put in place the Conservation Agriculture Up-scaling Framework for Zimbabwe which seeks to promote its uptake and improve crop production.
Increased food production is not only expected to impact at household level but go even further and contribute to the national efforts of achieving food security.
The adoption of convenient farming methods, which counter the effects of climate change as pundits predict, will result in the country being able to produce sufficiently.

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