By Ndafadza Madanha
A 700% increase in yields and enhanced household food security was achieved for communities that participated in the Pfumvudza concept in the 2019/2020 season with support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Zimbabwe and Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LFSP)
Pfumvudza is a Low Input Sustainable Agriculture approach to enhance household food and nutrition security and the Zimbabwe government has adopted the concept in the 2020/2021 farming season.
More than 1,1 million households across the country have received inputs under the Government funded Pfumvudza programme.
According to Ali Said, FAO Chief Technical Advisor for the LFSP, during the 2019/2020 farming season in partnership with AGRITEX and technical support of Foundations for Farming trained 53,004 farmers from 10 districts across three provinces on the Pfumvudza Concept.
Of the 53 004 farmers trained by the programme over 9 000 went on to achieve yields of over 7.8tonnes per hectare representing a 700% increase from the conventional farming average of 1 ton per hectare.
“In response to the impact of climate change and successive droughts which led to poor harvests, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Zimbabwe, through the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) funded Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LFSP) embarked on large scale promotion of Low Input Sustainable Agriculture approach to enhance household food and nutrition security in the country.
“Out of the 53,004 farmers from the three LFSP clusters in Manicaland, Midlands and Mashonaland Provinces trained on the Pfumvudza concept 9,281 went on to apply the concept under the maize crop at their family farms. Farmers who followed most of the recommended Pfumvudza practices (mulch cover, recommended fertilizer application levels, timely crop planting, pest and disease management, recommended crop spacing leading to optimal plant populations) achieved an average of 7.8 tonnes per hectare.
The 7.8 tonnes/ha achieved by farmers who practiced Pfumvudza in 2019/20 was 700% higher than yields from conventional farming (1 ton per hectare), guaranteeing household food security for about 33 weeks. The performance of Pfumvudza thus points to the huge potential to turn around the food and nutrition security status of rural households and indeed the whole country”.
Said added that the LFSP was in response to the impact of climate change and successive droughts which have led to poor harvests. Further the programmes support and strengthen government’s efforts to climate proof Zimbabwe’s smallholder agriculture and achieve zero hunger.
Going forward Said believes Pfumvudza offers a solution to the daunting and recurring climatic and economic challenges experienced by small holder farmers in Zimbabwe.
“While it climate proofs the farming practices by employing the principles of conservation agriculture it also reduces the financial burden on farmers by reducing the costs of inputs using locally available low cost materials.
Furthermore, it substantially reduces the labour requirements of households, particularly labour-poor families including female headed households due to the very small plot size (1/16th of a hectare)”.
FAO has been working with three consortia led by Welthungerhilfe, Practical Action and World Vision as lead implementing partners to improve food and nutrition security and increase income amongst 250,000 rural farming households under the LFSP programme in 12 districts.