By Tapiwanashe Mulenga
Communal farmers in Mberengwa are embracing the zero-tillage Pfumvudza agricultural programme in preparation for the 2021-2022 farming season which was introduced by Government to ensure optimum grain production in communal lands.
Pfumvudza is part of the country’s successful hunger-averting agricultural programme that aims to ensure food security at household level as well as provide for the country’s food basket. Initially, farmers were hesitant to adopt the Pfumvudza scheme, but the just ended farming season has motivated farmers to adopt the scheme as many farmers had a fair share last season.
Mberengwa villagers have started preparing their lands ahead of the summer season as they have started gathering maize husks and plant residue to cover the land for moisture preservation as poised by the Pfumvudza scheme.
Mberengwa North Member of Parliament Cde Tafanana Zhou said zero tillage is more ideal in his constituency and has more benefits considering that the area lies in the arid region in Midlands province and usually receives below-average rains.
“Preparations have already begun and farmers await the rain season which is promising as poised by the changes in the weather pattern. Most farmers have dug holes and ferried manure into their fields. Plant residue helps to improve soil structure. We have been advised that tilling land usually disrupts the natural structures of soils as well as dispersing carbon needed by soils into the air. The size of the holes together with the maize tusks and husks help in the soil-plant nutrient cycle.
“One of the advantages of Intwasa/Pfumvudza is that it improves soil structure as there is minimum disruption to the soil. This means that more nutrients are preserved in the soil for plant growth resulting in high yields. Zero tillage also reduces erosion as it leaves more residue on the surface compared to the other farming method that involves completely turning the soil.
“Mberengwa also has some areas that have loose soils. With zero tillage under Pfumvudza, erosion can be reduced since it leaves more residue on the surface in the months when there are no crops growing like the dry season or winter. This keeps the soils moist as well as intact. It is another way that this method improves soils nutrients,” said Cde Zhou.
“I started digging holes in September and as it is, l am now feeding cattle manure and dead leaves into the holes. Last season I received two tonnes of maize and half a ton of sorghum. I aim to retain more this year since I have prepared my three fields in time,” said Nicodemus Mbewe from Mberengwa North.
Having realized a bumper harvest last cropping season, the Government’s focus now is on mechanization so that the country does not only produce for its consumption but also for export.