AT least 26 000 people in Manicaland are in need of farming land as demand continues to rise with each passing year.
The Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Honourable Nokuthula Matsikenyere, revealed this to The Manica Post in an interview during her tour of livestock farms in Makoni on Monday.
Minister Matsikenyere said the demand is currently outstripping the supply of farms and implored the Government to release the report of the Land Audit Committee to enable the provincial land committee to deal with the bloated waiting list.
Manicaland is blessed with large tracts of arable land under the five agro-climatic zones, thereby putting the province in a good position to produce a wide variety of crops and livestock, including dairy cattle, tea, tobacco, macadamia, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables and cotton.
New technologies in agriculture, investments on research and development, as well as Government’s efforts in rejuvenating irrigation facilities are changing the face of agriculture in Manicaland.
During her tour, Minister Matsikenyere passed through DargBreeg Farm in Nyazura, which belongs to youthful farmer, Mr Shepard Nyika; the adjacent Mhiripiri Farm which is being leased out to two livestock farmers, Mr Samson Mangani and Mr Tonderai Magaya; as well as Mr Tichafara Chidawanyika’s Mona Farm Extension in Headlands.
“I noted during my tour that highly productive young farmers are renting land. In doing so, the farmers lack security of tenure to make lifelong investments. It is not easy to invest when you are renting the land. If the land audit reports are released, we can then assist them with land.
“We have at least 26 000 people on our waiting list. Some farmers are already practising, they need urgent assistance to grow their projects,” said Minister Matsikenyere.
The exercise to identify derelict farms and those exceeding maximum farm sizes in Manicaland has already been done.
Four farms were identified in Chipinge, 13 in Makoni, two in Nyanga and six in Mutare.
Meanwhile, preparations for the 2021/22 summer season have already started in the province following the training of those who will spearhead the Pfumvudza programme in the province’s seven districts, with special emphasis being placed on agro-innovations and precision farming methods to optimise costs of production and productivity.
Agritex head for Manicaland, Mrs Philllipa Rwambiwa, said precision agriculture will re-organise the farming system towards low-input, high-efficiency and sustainable agriculture.
Precision farming is an approach where inputs are utilised in precise amounts to get increased average yields.
Next season, Manicaland is targeting 300 000 households under Pfumvudza, 22 000 hectares under Command Agriculture and 100 000ha under traditional grains — with all programmes being sponsored by the Government to revive agriculture and improve the economic conditions of farmers.
Pfumvudza is one of the key pillars of the Agriculture Recovery Plan, a Government blueprint aimed at reversing declining productivity in the agricultural sector by putting agriculture on firm foundation to contribute significantly to a pro-poor and inclusive economic growth trajectory, which is key in the attainment of Vision 2030.
“We have trained those who will train farmers under Pfumvudza in the province’s districts. All farmers should be trained by the end of July, following which they should start pot-holing and mulch gathering. We already have some farmers who are through with ready plots, and are waiting to receive their inputs.
“Inputs will be delivered to our GMB depots very soon, and by the end of October, all the farmers should have received all the inputs. We are also beginning to register farmers under the Command Agriculture.
“Last season our (Pfumvudza) target was 250 000 households, and this coming season we will try to get to 300 000 households, and 22 000ha for Command Agriculture, with special emphasis on production per unity area. We want high yields per hectare to improve the output,” said Mrs Rwambiwa.