Communal farmers strategise to counter drought
Story by Mercy Bofu
COMMUNAL farmers in Masvingo are adopting various mitigatory measures to protect their crops and livestock from the predicted El-Nino induced drought this summer.
65-year-old Sekuru Nyararai Maname of Nyeruke Village in Masvingo is one of the communal farmers who are preparing for the summer cropping season, despite the predicted normal to below normal rains.
Like other farmers in his area, Sekuru Maname is employing the climate proof Pfumvudza/Intwasa climate proof method and has gone a step further by growing brachiaria grass around his fields for mulching his crops and hay bailing for livestock.
“For the past years, I have been growing my crops using the Pfumvudza concept. However, I decided to grow brachiaria grass and green leaf desmodium around my fields for mulching purposes and to prevent fall armyworms. Again, I bail the grass for my livestock given that this coming season predictions are showing that we might receive low rains. This method has been working for me because, from each Pfumvudza field, I get nine 50 kg bags of maize,” he said.
The community is also implementing on-farm feed formulation programs using climate-smart forage systems at their homesteads.
“We realised that we won’t be able to buy livestock feed, hence we started making our own feed with the support from the government through Agritex officers. This will help us feed our livestock despite drought,” he added.
Village Head Benjamin Nyeruke said “I’m glad that as a community now we have come up with various measures to ensure we are food secure and protect our livestock. Previously we lost our herds of cattle to drought but this season we will be ready.”
The Government is targeting to train and re-train more than three million farmers under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme with over 200 thousand hectares set to be put under irrigation to guarantee food security.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr John Basera said, “We are rolling out a program under the tag AMA Adaptation, Mitigation and followed through with Action. We are going to support our farmers under Pfumvudza and it will be complemented by increasing irrigable land, our target is to have an additional 20 000 hectares by the end of October, in addition to the 204 000 hectares under irrigation.”
Zimbabwe, like other countries, has not been spared from the effects of climate change and the government is employing various measures to safeguard food security, beginning at the household level.