THE recent forecast that the country will receive normal-to-above normal rains this cropping season is timely signal for famers to wind up their land preparations.
There isn’t much time left as the rain season is expected to start just next month.
The country received good rains in the 2020-21 season with a resultant bumper crop.
The prospect of a repeat has triggered a lot of excitement from farmers.
But rains alone were not responsible in waving the magic wand.
It was gratifying to hear Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube recently assuring the nation that inputs would be released ahead of the rains.
The onus is now on farmers to meet their part of the bargain.
Land preparation using the Pfumvudza/Intwasa method has turned out to be a master stroke.
This climate-proofing agricultural conservation technique was especially popular with rural folk.
With the absence of animal draught power and the menace of drought, land preparation on limited small plots proved to be more manageable.
Already, AGRITEX officers are busy reminding villagers of how to go about preparing their 16m x 39m plots Pfumvudza/Intwasa style.
And they have been told that release of the inputs would be conditional.
Prepare your land first then the necessary inputs will follow.
The enthusiasm of the villagers is evident.
Last year, each villager was required to prepare three plots for the Pfumvudza/Intwasa project.
Buoyed by last year’s success, this time they have welcomed the idea of increasing to five plots.
Already, some farmers under the same village head (sabhuku) are organising themselves into groups to work on each others’ plots.
This would mean a group would converge on one of the member’s field and dig the holes on the agreed Pfumvudza/Intwasa plots.
Because of strength in numbers, they can work on at least five members’ Pfumvudza/Intwasa plots a day.
The villagers are then expected to act as a peer group, checking on each other’s progress or otherwise.
On completion, inputs which may include fertilisers, maize and oil seed, possibly traditional grains and a variety of chemicals are then released.
Villagers further benefit from the Presidential Input Scheme.
All this should ideally be completed before the onset of the rains as part of preparations.
As the AGRITEX officer updates villagers on the Pfumvudza/Intwasa requirements, he is also expected to advise them on how to tackle outbursts of locusts, crickets and army worm, among other pests.
Arrangements are there for commercial farmers to approach the Agricultural Finance Company (AFC) Holdings and other commercial banks to negotiate loans for both mechanisation needs and inputs.
It is expected that if farmers, both subsistence and commercial, do their homework diligently, this year’s yields might even be dwarfed.
The 2,7 million metric tonnes of maize harvested this year is a record since the Land Reform Programme.
This improvement is right across the board and not limited to maize only.
Another bumper harvest will mean a boost in reserves and this will cushion us against possible future droughts.
High levels of production in agriculture will reduce need for imports.
The foreign currency saved will then be diverted to other development projects like building of dams and expanding our irrigation capacity.
We also take note of the great strides taken in wheat production, where this year’s hectarage has surpassed last year’s by 50 percent.
Since no more wheat imports are expected this year, it means the country is well on the road to self-sufficiency
But, in all these cases, the hallmark of success is astute land preparation.
What with steps being taken to boost our cattle herd!
The country is truly assured of a US$8,2 billion agriculture economy by 2025.