Pfumvudza Farming Concept

Pfumvudza is a crop production intensification approach under which farmers ensure the efficient use of resources (inputs and labour) on a small area of land in order to optimize its management. Pfumvudza involves the utilisation of small pieces of land and applying the correct agronomic practices for higher returns.[1] It has been defined as a climate-proofing agricultural concept which emphasises on the use of conservation farming techniques to make the most out of small pieces of land.

Background

Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement introduced a new farming concept called Pfumvudza to maximise productivity per unit area, even during drought periods, to ensure household and national food and nutritional security.[2]

“Pfumvudza means a new season of increased productivity; it is a season of producing more on less land and with less resources; a season of climate proofing our agriculture through … [the] adoption of Conservation Agriculture,” said the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, John Basera.

Training

Due to the conservative nature of the Pfumvudza farming concept, prospective farmers are encouraged to undergo training so that they fully grasp the important aspects of the concept. In the training phase, farmers are taught on the importance of due diligence on following the farming procedures mostly in land preparation and crop maintenance.[3]

The Government of Zimbabwe had set a target to train 1.8 million farmers in Conservation Agriculture (CA) by October 2020 in time for the 2020/21 cropping season. One million farmers have already been trained in the country.

To help achieve this ambitious goal, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Foundations for Farming (FfF) have been training government extension staff to implement the Pfumvudza concept – which comprises CA practices – to help bring food self-sufficiency to Zimbabwe.

The Concept

What makes Pfumvudza unique is the size of the plot used: at just 16m x 39m the plot is small enough to easily prepare, small enough to manage with mulch, small enough to weed, and even small enough to water by hand with harvested rainwater in the event of a mid-season dry spell or drought.

The concept has been successful in helping farmers to produce grains including maize, sorghum and millet, while it also encourages the rotation of legumes such as beans, ground nuts or cowpeas.

According to Matthew Mbanga, CEO of Foundation for Farming (FfF) Trust, “The secret to the project’s success has been its scalability. Conservation Agriculture drastically reduces the workload for farmers and limiting the size of plots makes it even more manageable.”

All 1.8 million beneficiaries of the Presidential Inputs Scheme, now called the Climate-proofed Presidential Inputs Scheme, were each expected to establish three Pfumvudza plots over the 2020/21 agricultural season.

Pfumvudza Farming

Opportunities for the marginalised groups

The agricultural space is fraught with inequality, yet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 alludes to reducing inequality within the agro space. While inequalities in agriculture are ever glaring for all to see, the year 2020 was different as most people did not worry about too many costly inputs such as ox-drawn ploughs for cultivation, among other things.

With the ongoing Government project supporting zero tillage farming also known as Intwasa/Pfumvudza, the dynamics of farming preparations have changed, as people are making minimal preparations for the cropping season, as far as resources are concerned.

Women, both in rural and urban set ups are instrumental in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, especially during the time when incomes had been lost owing to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. They are also instrumental in making food systems more productive and sustainable.

Most women in small-scale farming have had challenges in accessing draught power and irrigation equipment and the Intwasa programme is levelling the playing field as they will be able to make most of the minimum resources to grow crops, feed their children and their communities. Women contribute a lot in communities as they grow food, reduce food losses, make diets more diverse and agricultural produce more marketable along the agri-food value chains.

Women are the hidden powerhouse in agriculture. Yet, women do not have as much access to credit and loans due to collateral issues, among other challenges they face in funding. However, while issues of funding and access to finances are being addressed by policy makers, Intwasa is extending a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of women to feed their families and their communities.[4]



References

  1. [1], Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Accessed: 20 November, 2020
  2. Elita Chikwati, [2], The Herald, Published: 11 March, 2020, Accessed: 20 November, 2020
  3. Eddy Maseya, [3], Start Up Biz, Published: 9 October, 2020, Accessed: 20 November, 2020
  4. Andile Tshuma, [4], Chronicle, Published: 3 October, 2020, Accessed: 20 November, 2020