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Pfumvudza Q & A: Climate Proofing Ensures Food Sustenance

Over the years, the majority of Zimbabwean soils have been losing their fertility, in addition to low rainfall patterns, reducing food crop ...

Over the years, the majority of Zimbabwean soils have been losing their fertility, in addition to low rainfall patterns, reducing food crop production. A low yield was caused by poor farming practices, climate change, and taking farming as a luxury, rather than a business. Now, the latest farming, Pfumvudza, a method of farming that holds the future for the country’s agriculture. To attain maximum yields, farmers undergo training (attached image) on how to utilize a 16m x 39m piece of land which should accommodate close to 1,456 planting stations.

The concept was developed Brian Oldereive of the Foundations of Farming in 1982, however the name was only adopted in 2007. And ever since, it has been adopted by 40 other countries in Africa. The Zimbabwe government adopted the concept into a national policy after Oldereive presented it to the local government, which visited some of the farmers already doing it and they were impressed by the concept. For the 2022-23 season alone, the government was targeting 2 million households, in both urban and rural areas.

Pvumvudza, in local vernacular means spring, or a new season of increased productivity, has been widely adopted by farmers as a climate-proofing and conversation to ensure food sustenance for Zimbabwe. The technique, which is bankrolled by the state, and NGOs, through the provision of yearly farming inputs to farmers, both in rural and urban areas of the country, has revived good yields. In return, the beneficiaries must submit a certain percentage of their grain harvest to the government reserves as payment for the inputs. The technique involves the digging of pits as small planting basins to concentrate water and nutrients.

Pfumvudza commences as early as October, before the first rains, with the application of lime and basal or compost in plant points. Weeding is done earlier. So far, the government has targeted 1.8 million households to benefit from the program. A year after its launch, Zimbabwe attained almost 2.8 million tonnes of maize/cereal grain, the staple food, planted across 1.9 million hectares, the highest since the early 1980s. According to the Zimbabwe government’s own data, the average national maize yield for the 2020/21 season was 1,39 tonnes per hectare. The agriculture ministry has said this 2020/21 yield is the highest recorded in the country since 2000/1. Below is a Q & A with FAO.

Tinzwei: What is the role of FAO in ensuring the successful implementation of Pfumvudza in Zimbabwe?

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO): FAO is a technical partner to the Government of Zimbabwe. As such, it works with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development (MLAFWRD) to help realise the government’s food and nutrition security goals. In that regard, FAO offers technical support to MLAFWRD in implementing projects promoting various technologies/interventions, among them Pfumvudza.

Tinzwei: How has the involvement of FAO helped farmers who are implementing the Pfumvudza concept?

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