Pfumvudza, A Tried And Tested Method Of Boosting Household Nutrition And Food Security Says Gvt & FAO

THE newly nationally adopted climate smart agriculture, Conservation Agriculture (CA) model or Pfumvunza which is being championed by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Settlement is a trusted and proven method of increasing household food security and nutrition, top agricultural experts have said.

By Michael Gwarisa

Conservation Agriculture was piloted by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and other partners in various districts in Zimbabwe in 2009 and since then, at least 300 000 Zimbabwean small holder farmers who practiced this method have tripled their production. The method involves minimum soil disturbance and farmers do not plough but, instead, hand dig individual holes – 15x15x15 cm basins to plant their thousands of seeds.

Speaking during the virtual World Food Day commemorations which was facilitated by FAO in collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe and the World Food Programme (WFP), Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Settlement Permanent Secretary, Dr John Basera said government had adopted a cocktail of measures to curb the recurring droughts and the Pfumvudza model was one of them.

Several initiatives have been taken on board to establish sustainable food production systems in Zimbabwe. These include among others the promotion of small grains production, adoption of the Pfumvudza concept, the Productive Assets Creation and Cash Transfers, nutrition sensitive agricultural trainings, Command agriculture, small stocks and crop demonstrations to horticulture and post-harvest management trainings.

“My ministry’ thrust is premised on the development of a sustainable, efficient and competitive agricultural sector which ensures food and nutrition self-sufficiency at both household and national level. My ministry is working diligently to contribute to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2 (SDG1&2) that target eradication of poverty and ending hunger respectively,” said Dr Basera.

Under the Pfumvudza model,  all eight rural farming provinces have been tasked to produce a total of 1.8 million tonnes of cereal and 360 000 tonnes of oil seeds for the 2020/21 agricultural farming season.

Dr Bhasera added that issues of food and nutrition insecurity were multifaceted, hence the need for a multi sectoral approach for a long-lasting solution and the ministry of agriculture is working with partners in different projects to end hunger and promote consumption of healthy diets. He also said majority of Zimbabwe’s population were in dire state due to episodic droughts which have become more frequent, in process affecting the country’s food security situation.

“The total cereal production for the past season was 1060143 metric tons (mt) against a national requirement of 212772 mt, leaving a national deficit of 1067639 mt. Efforts by government and development partners to budge this food deficit gap should be applauded but we certainly need more support as we need another 800 000 mt to the end of April 2021.

“The Agricultural and Food Systems Transformative Strategy (FSTS) aims to achieve a US$8.2 Billion agriculture industry, contributing more than 20 percent to the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025. My ministry is aware of the problems caused by Climate Change and Climate variability. The recurrent Elnino induced droughts have left several households food insecure, Cyclone Idai caused extensive damage to many parts of the country.”

He added that the ministry of agriculture was making efforts to try and salvage and rehabilitate the agricultural infrastructure in order to optimize agricultural productivity and ensure food security ahead of the 2020-2021 agricultural season.

Speaking during the same event, Assistant Representative for the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAOR) Zimbabwe, Mr David Mfote said Conservation Agriculture was a proven farming model which could turn around the food security situation of the country and households.

“Since 2009, we have seen that those who took up the technology have actually ensured food security withing their households. This is actually one of the reasons why the ministry has now taken it up to scale it up because they have seen the benefits of farmers who have practiced conservation agriculture.

“We can also see that with efforts that FAO foundation for farming and all other partners have been doing on Conservation Agriculture, it has sent a very god message and we are quite happy that our policy makers have taken up the advice and they are now driving Pfumvudza or Climate Smart Agriculture. I assure you this actually going to ensure national food security for the country,” said Mr Mfote.

With funding from FCDO, one initiative, under the auspices of the Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LFSP), aims to “climate-proof” Zimbabwean agriculture with a return to traditional practices of sustainable farming typified by the word “Pfumvudza.” The approach has yielded returns over 700% higher for participants and is now being adopted throughout Zimbabwe.

In cyclone Idai hit areas, through funding from World Bank, FAO is working with partners to ensure food security. Small holder farmers are being trained on post-harvest management and are supplied with hermetic bags, this has resulted in the cut on use of pesticide and reduced post-harvest losses from 35%-40% to almost zero.

With Climate change and Covid-19 wreaking havoc, the WFP estimates that 7.7 million people in Zimbabwe are set to be food insecure by the end of the year. WFP Zimbabwe Representnaive and Country Director, Francesca Erdelmann said there was need for collective effort in order to end hunger in the country.

“Today we celebrate our partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe and all our partners. The only way to achieve Zero Hunger is to put all our hands on deck. More than ever, there is a need for solidarity to help all people, and especially the most vulnerable, to confront the challenges we are facing. – climate change and COVID-19.”

 

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