Zimbabwe anticipates a plentiful harvest of maize and other grains during the 2022-2023 summer season, sufficient to provide food for the country’s population of 17 million.
The expected maize production is 2,298,281 tonnes, a 58% increase from the 1,453,031 tonnes produced in the 2021–2022 season, according to the country’s Second Crop and Livestock and Fisheries Assessment Study.
The expected output of traditional grains (sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet) is 280,966 tonnes, 45% more than the 194,100 tonnes produced in 2021–2022.
According to the Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory Services (ARDAS) chief director, Professor Obert Jiri, the increased yields result from several initiatives.
“We hope to grow the country’s agricultural economy. We have not imported maize in the last three years. The increased production is attributed to government agricultural blueprint strategies such as the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation, farmer retraining, and the use of cutting-edge farming technologies,” said Jiri.
The Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation strategy is a 5-year program initiated by the government in 2019 to increase food production in the country.
It provides an overview of the sector’s performance and that of the various individual sub-sectors of the agricultural economy, making it one of the early warning systems for predicting the situation concerning national food security.
“Through various government initiatives, we are looking to boost our production volumes, and I believe we are on a positive path towards grain exports in the near future,” he said.
John Basera, Zimbabwe’s Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, told bird story agency that climate-smart agriculture has also been the game changer in current crop output.
“We used to have extremely low yields over the years, but thanks to climate-smart agriculture, people are now realising that significant yields can be produced on a tiny area of land without using fertilizers and other soil-harming supplements,” he said.
Collaborations between the government and non-governmental organizations, donor agencies, and the business sector have also resulted in various agricultural initiatives.
One of them is a plan that focuses on efficiently using resources (both inputs and labour) on tiny plots of land. It is known as Pfumvudza/Intwasa and has been heavily practised since the 2020/21 cropping season.
This agricultural idea strives to give household food, nutrition, and livelihood security. Beneficiaries of the scheme must prepare their land ahead of time to receive inputs and seeds. Many of the limitations of previous practices are addressed by this technique, which stresses the use of no-till planting to help improve soil fertility.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations says agriculture accounts for around 17% of Zimbabwe’s GDP. As the primary source of income for the bulk of the population, agricultural performance is a critical predictor of rural livelihood resilience and poverty levels.
Boniface Boriwondo, a small-scale farmer from Mahatshula in Bulawayo, said his passion for farming was the ‘secret’ to his success.
“The scalability of my passion for farming has been the secret to my success in 2023. I invested much time and effort into learning about my plot’s soil type and weeds. Knowing how to deal with certain weeds, which eat up all nutrients and reduce yield, is helpful.
Due to climate change, I plant as the rainy season begins, which has paid off for me year after year. I planted sweet potatoes, maize, beans and sunflowers on this small plot, and I anticipate a good yield of nearly four tons of maize. It’s a bumper harvest this year,” Boriwondo stated.
Ernest Denhere, a small-scale farmer in Bulawayo and Mhondoro, said even though his area of Bulawayo is prone to drought, he successfully planted groundnuts and maize on his small plots in Mhondoro.
“The majority of us have benefited from the conservation farming and presidential inputs scheme. I had to use techniques that only minimally disturbed the soil. I would only make a hole big enough to plant seeds, leaving the rest of the land alone. The idea really paid off, and the problem of food shortage is now a thing of the past for many families,” he said.
According to The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ), the recent abundant crop significantly boosts the milling industry value chain because it promotes job preservation and frees local producers from reliance on imports.
In addition to climate-smart agriculture and the good rains that have fallen this farming season, the government’s early agricultural planning—specifically, the prompt delivery of input subsidies to farmers—played a significant role in delivering the anticipated good harvest, added Basera.
Among traditional grains, favoured by small farmers, sorghum production is expected to climb by 32%, Pearl millet production is projected to increase by 61%, while finger millet will increase by 250% to 18 610 tonnes.
bird story agency