Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector has had to contend with a number of impediments whose source are not limited to climate change and poor investment in the sector due to the US embargo. Since the emergence of the new administration the agricultural sector has seen huge reforms from a policy level and this article intends to focus on one of the models the government has introduced to meet it’s good security objectives. The model in question is called PFUMVUDZA which when translated means “a new season”, in effect crystallising governments reform agenda.
WHAT IS PFUMVUDZA?
“Pfumvudza”, is a crop production intensification approach that allows farmers to concentrate resources (inputs and labour) on a small land unit (39 by 16 metres) focused on increased productivity.Studies revealed that a rural family with a complement of six members consumes a bucket of maize or 19 kgs of mealie meal a week. Granulation studies showed that this converts to 52 medium sized cobs a week.
HOW WILL IT BE SET UP?
A Pfumvudza plot consists of 28 planting stations per line with 2 plants per station fulfilling a familys weekly complement of 52 cobs of maize. With each line representing one week of a household’s maize meal requirements, a total of 52 such lines would be required being representative of the 52 weeks in a year.
A pfumvudza plot is 39 metres long and 16 metres wide, giving 624 square metres. This plot is one-sixteenth of a hectare.
•800kg to one tonne of maize can be produced according to proven trial runs.
•Production is, therefore, between 12,8 tonnes and 16 tonnes a hectare! This is world class tonnage.
COST OF PRODUCTION
•Pfumvudza is not expensive to operate with the cost of non-labour inputs being US$50 if hybrid seeds are to be used.
•With simple organic fertilisers and seed, the non-labour input cost can drop to zero dollars.
•So compact is a Pfumvudza plot as to warrant very low labour costs as families can provide the necessary labour.
PROBABILITY OF SUCCESSFUL YIELD
The probability of a successful yield hovers near 100%. Should there be erratic rainfall, the plot is so small that it can be irrigated using simple water buckets.
Concurrent soya or sugar bean plots of the same size can be also planted using the same intensive method creating an income for the families and beds for crop rotation. This is especially favourable as bean crops fix nitrogen in the soil making fertilizer use minimal, thereby cutting overheads for the farmers.
According to the 2017 Inter-censal Demographic Survey (ICDS) produced by Zimstat, there are three million households in Zimbabwe, with about 1,8 million of these households being rural.
If each rural household, at the minimum, produces on one Pfumvudza plot, Zimbabwe will be assured of 1,44-1,80 million tonnes of maize from rural farmers, producing an excess of 475 000-600 000 tonnes per year, based on the fact that according to the ICDS, a household is an average of four members.
•Our current maize requirements are 2 million tonnes a year. If the rural farmers are persuaded to do two Pfumvudza maize plots, 2,88-3,60 million tonnes of maize will be produced, giving us an excess of 3,4-4,2 million tonnes of maize from rural farmers only ready for storage and export.
With good adherence to technical requirements rural farmers from their second season can continue this project without assistance.
The potential economic development is unprecedented. It will see rural farmers supplying capital from their own internal resources and being food secure against fluctuating weather trends.
This method dovetails well with the presidents ethos of moving away from traditional methods of doing things, i.e depending on international loans.
Instead of the traditional models where we over-rely on foreign direct investment, loans from the Bretton Woods institutions and the local banking sector, the rural farmer becomes a powerful independent investor in his or her own right.
If every rural farmer becomes a soya bean producer this will be a massive development, never before experienced in this country.
•Rural farmers could potentially produce 360 000-720 000 tonnes of soya beans annually from their own capital. Zimbabwe’s annual soya bean requirement is only 220 000 tonnes. The rest would add on to and cement our already positive export-import balance.
PFUMVUDZA INNOVATIVE NATURE
Pfumvudza is apex agrarian reform, home-grown, at its best. The potential in supporting industries and infrastructure that will be pulled in by this concept is massive.
Essentially, per the Zimbabwe Situation, the rural household becomes a respected domestic investor who will be weaned of any dependency.
I’m light of this one may argue that PFUMVUDZA might be just the approach the sector needs and that it has the potential of becoming an economic stimulant and the beginning of a chain of economic developments that will increase food security and export.
Analysis By: Farai Marapira a Zimbabwean based Political Analyst.