Pfumvudza, irrigation come to the rescue

02 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
Pfumvudza, irrigation come to the rescue Farm manager Mr Oscar Taguta takes the Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Advocate Misheck Mugadza (left); Lands, Agricultural, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka (second from left) and other Government officials through the operations of Taguta Farm during a field day held at the farm in Chipinge last Friday. - Picture: Tinai Nyadzayo.

The ManicaPost


Samuel Kadungure
Senior Reporter

With climate change here to stay, the country needs to become more resilient through the use of efficient irrigation systems.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development, Professor Obert Jiri has said Government is fast-tracking irrigation development and is also promoting the Pfumvudza Programme which uses conservation agriculture principles.

This season, experts have predicted an El Niño phenomenon that increases the likelihood of below-normal rainfall.

Under such conditions, rain-fed agriculture becomes unviable in the southern and northern regions of Manicaland, with the possibility of crops being wiped out, while livestock diseases and deaths could be triggered.

This was not the case decades ago as the northern and southern zones used to be synonymous with abundant rainfall, fertile soils, good pastures and overflowing water points for humans and livestock.

Manicaland has thus suffered deleterious metamorphosis characterised by low and highly variable rainfall which compromises climate-sensitive sectors like agriculture, forestry, fisheries and livestock production.

Now that the frequency of droughts has increased from once per decade to about once every three years, focus should be on mitigating against this recurring scourge.

Prof Jiri said the adoption of Pfumvudza principles have shown that when applied properly, they can be useful in mitigating the challenges.

He said farmers should focus on mulching to conserve the water and control weeds, adding that planting basins must also be made permanent to help in conserving moisture.


“If they are made permanent, they can also help conserve moisture to allow for early planting with the first rains in October. As we speak, those who planted early have the best crop. We need permanent planting basins because climate change is real, so we need climate-proofing at household level.

“We are also encouraging irrigation development so that every water body is utilised for irrigation. We need irrigation systems at Osborne and Rusape Dams to assist farmers. Water from those dams is going all the way to Chisumbanje, which is in another district. We must utilise the capacity of all our dams to produce enough for our areas, districts and the province,” he said.

Prof Jiri said Zimbabwe has about 10 700 water bodies with the capacity to irrigate over two million hectares.

However, only 220 000ha are currently under irrigation, out of which 45 000ha and 25 000ha are under sugarcane and plantations respectively, leaving about 150 000ha under crop irrigation.

“Every inch of arable land in Zimbabwe can be irrigated, but so far we are only irrigating 220 000ha. Zimbabwe can only be food secure after developing irrigation infrastructure and systems at every water body,” he said.

Prof Jiri said Pfumvudza is the way to go, especially in times when there is inadequate rainfall.

He said for great results in Pfumvudza, farmers should not cut corners as all steps need to be followed religiously.

“We need to be adequately prepared for any eventualities and avert anything that could happen as a result of climate change. No one should die of hunger, and our extension officers will be ranked according to the self-sustainable households they work with in their wards,” he said.

Prof Jiri said officers with a high number of food insecure households will be deemed to have failed, and will be shown the exit door.

“This is regardless of the agro ecological zone — those in natural region five should be able to produce sufficient food for their own consumption. We must transform our households from vulnerability to sufficiency.

“We will get rid of extension workers with a high number of households on vulnerability lists. We have seen vulnerability being reduced in Makoni, Nyanga and Mutasa because extension officers there are working hard, and we appreciate the efforts that they are putting to transform the households. They are now producing enough at household level.

“That is the real essence and objective of Pfumvudza — to ensure that each household is food secure,” he said.


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