Background and introduction
The Pfumvudza Programme has been adopted by the Government as a measure to address the problems of low productivity, low production and low profitability of farming which continue to negatively affect the food security situation in the country. Because of the low productivity and low production, the country has become a perennial net importer of cereal grains amounting to USD800 million annually. This increases pressure on the fiscus to source foreign currency for grain importation which could be channelled to other productive sectors of the economy if we produced sufficient amounts for our country. The Pfumvudza concept is an attempt reverse, this insalubrious state of affairs.
The low productivity has been caused by a number of factors, among them poor agronomic practices, poor soils, the impact of climate change and failure to approach agriculture from a business perspective by both farmers and our extension system. Climate change impacts are characterised by poor rainfall seasons, prolonged mid-season dry spells, very high temperatures during the growing season and the early cessation of the rains. Thus, the adoption of the Pfumvudza concept which is based on conservation agriculture principles will help climate-proof agricultural production, and in particular the food production sub-sector.
The adoption of the Pfumvudza concept also addresses other production related issues. As the concept applies conservation agriculture principle, it is one way of reducing soil loss (soil erosion) in our arable areas. It also assists farmers to increase productivity, thus getting higher yields from small areas.
The Pfumvudza Programme targets particularly the smallholder farmers who are most vulnerable to the calamities and vagaries of climate change.
The Pfumvudza concept aims at ensuring food, nutrition and livelihood security at household level. This Pfumvudza Programme, is the flagship programme in the implementation of our Government’s Agriculture Recovery Plan. The programme requires that each farmer establishes three plots: two plots with cereal crops (maize and/or traditional grains), one of which will provide for the farmers’ food self-sufficiency, and the production from the second plot will be sold to GMB to contribute to the National Strategic Grain Reserves and raise household income. In the process, we are also commercialising smallholder farming in Zimbabwe. On the third plot, farmers in the high potential areas will receive soyabean seed while those in the low potential areas will receive sunflower seed that the farmer can sell-off to earn income.
Under the Pfumvudza Programme, the Government will provide through the Presidential Inputs Programme inputs to 1.8 million smallholder farmers who are all expected to have done holing out of their plots and mulch collection in preparation for the season by end of September 2020.
Each household is supported with a standard input package to produce one tonne of cereals and 0.2 tonnes of oil seeds (sunflower or soyabean). Expected total output shall therefore be 1.8 million tonnes of cereals and 360 000 tonnes of oil seed.
This model intends to address household food security as well as the commercialisation of smallholder farming in Zimbabwe.
The inputs will be issued in a package that provides seeds, agricultural lime, basal fertilizer (1x50kg bag), top dressing (1x50kg bag) and Fall Armyworm control pesticides.
Targets have been set for provinces based on their household populations. These targets have been communicated to Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution. It therefore follows that each province will produce at least 250 000 tonnes of cereals and a corresponding 45 000 tonnes of oil seeds. The national production is expected to be 1.8 million MT of cereals and 360 000MT of oil seeds, both sufficient to meet human consumption requirements for a year.
Progress on Implementation of Pfumvudza Programme
All the 5 294 Agricultural Extension Workers and Agricultural Extension Supervisors across all provinces have been trained on the concept.
A total of 3 255 378 farmers (1 483 195 males, 1 772 183 females) have so far been trained by the extension workers as at 4 September, 2020 and the training of farmers is a continuing programme.
Extension workers are expected to train, track and monitor the farmers until harvest. This is dubbed the TTM Extension Service Approach. So far, 525 439 households have prepared their Pfumvudza plots. Farmer training and establishment of Pfumvudza plots by the farmers is work in progress and we are targeting over 1.8 million households by October 2020.
Soil samples taken for analysis stand at 43 635 as at 4 September, 2020 of which 13 756 samples have been analysed.
Timelines of Operations
The key preparatory activities for Pfumvudza (holing out and mulch collection should have been done in July and August). We urge farmers who have not done so to expeditiously work on this before the end of September in readiness to plant with the first planting rains.
The distribution of inputs has started and the anticipation is that this should be completed before end of October 2020.
Expected Programme Impacts
Increased productivity and production (at least one tonne of grain from each household).
Household and national food self-sufficiency plus surplus.
Reduced impacts of drought.
Series of radio, T.V and digital media programmes are being aired nationally and are ongoing.
Pamphlets, videos, information disks have been produced
Each school of the 9 000 rural schools should establish 10 plots of Pfumvudza.
TTM Approach – each extension officer is given a target to train, track and monitor at least 350 households.
Engagement of political and traditional leadership, civil society and other partners has been initiated to harmonise approach and ensure successful implementation.
The tertiary institutions within the Ministry have also been engaged to set up demonstration plots that can be used for learning purposes by farmer groups.
Each agricultural extension worker will establish a Pfumvudza demonstration plot in his/her working area and is given a target to train, track and monitor at least 350 households (no upper limits)
Farmers who have not started are being encouraged to start holing out and mulch collection and have their plots ready before the rains.
Soil sampling and analysis is being vigorously pursued across the country.
The Pfumvudza Programme like all other agricultural programmes requires a robust and a well-capacitated extension provision system for technical training, tracking and monitoring. Through support from His Excellency the President, Dr E.D Mnangagwa, a total of
5 000 motor-bikes will be availed to frontline extension staff. Delivery of these has started with 414 having been delivered to provinces as at 4 September, 2020. Training of agricultural extension workers in motor-cycle riding is ongoing with 284 so far trained and 139 tested with 129 passing the test. The other batches of motor cycles are being shipped into the country.
Additionally, an agriculture-wide robust and cost-efficient Agricultural Information Management System (AIMS) shall be launched to assist with area and yield monitoring from December 2020 onwards.
With these interventions and a predicted better rainfall season, we expect to morph our way out of the perennial food insecurity situation.