A new survey has revealed significant growth in participation in the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme, a climate-proofing farming practice aimed at enhancing yields in the wake of climate change.
The 10th round of the Rapid Poverty Income Consumption and Expenditure Survey (PICES), conducted by the Zimbabwe Statistics Agency (ZimStat) in August 2023, revealed a significant increase in participation in the climate-smart farming practice across the country.
Notably, the participation was much higher in rural areas, with 84 percent of households engaged in the conservation agriculture system compared to only 22 percent in urban centres.
The figures underscore the significant uptake of climate-smart farming, particularly in rural areas in response to extreme weather events and drought linked to climate change.
Pfumvudza refers to a conservation agriculture programme that helps conserve moisture in case of limited rains. It is funded by the Government to promote small-scale intensive farming.
The conservation agriculture techniques include minimal tillage, mulching and crop rotation to improve soil health and moisture retention. It increases yields and enhances resilience to droughts. The crops targeted under the programme include staple crops like maize, sorghum, and millet as well as cotton.
Survey data revealed that 61,8 percent of participating households had female involvement, while males constituted the balance. The Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme has seen a significant increase in land preparation between 2021 and 2023.
By November 2023, nearly 12 million plots covering 744 588 hectares had been prepared, more than doubling the previous year’s figure of 5,87 million plots, (366 706 ha) and nearly tripling the land prepared in 2021 of 4,6 million plots (287,640 ha).
The Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme has demonstrably boosted the productivity of staple crops such as maize and traditional grains like sorghum, highlighting its significant impact on food security since its implementation.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere, speaking after the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday this week, attributed the rising participation in the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme to farmers embracing recommended climate-smart practices, particularly amid the El Niño conditions.
“This is a reflection that farmers are adopting the recommended climate-proofing interventions, especially during the El Nino condition,” said Dr Muswere.
Dr Muswere said Zimbabwe produced a robust 2,57 million tonnes of maize and traditional grains during the 2022/2023 season, exceeding the national consumption requirement of 2,2 million tonnes.
This breakdown includes 1,8 million tonnes for food and 400,000 tonnes for livestock feed and translates to daily production of 6 027 tonnes, with nearly 82 percent (4,931 tonnes) directly feeding the population. Notably, this means the country produced enough maize and traditional grains to meet its monthly human consumption needs of 150 000 tonnes.
Minister Muswere reassured the nation of sufficient grain reserves until the next maize and traditional grains harvest in April.
He added that as of January 28, 2024, wheat stocks stood at 247 371 tonnes, which will last 11 months with a monthly consumption rate of 21 000 metric tonnes.