The Sunday News
Nonsikelelo Ndlovu, Sunday News Reporter
FARMERS have urged Government to add cotton farming under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa farming scheme in a bid to improve production of the white gold.
The Pfumvudza/Intwasa initiative was introduced last year to boost food production and is credited for contributing to the maize bumper harvest. Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) executive director Mr Paul Zakariya said if put under the scheme, cotton production under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa farming scheme should be included in large-scale commercial farms once there are enough technological inputs. Already, cottom farming benefits from the Presidential Inputs Scheme.
“The advantage of cotton being under Pfumvudza/Intwasa is that Government would directly support the programme and all those who have been working with the Government will conversely be part of that and more funding can be availed from other sources like the contractors and the Presidential input farming scheme,” he said.
He said the Pfumvudza/Intwasa farming scheme was important in agriculture production and its impacts on the low income to middle-income earners by helping them to produce enough to eat and sell.
“The Pfumvudza Programme targets particularly the smallholder farmers who are vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change because it teaches a farmer how to use approved seed, protect the seed, feed seed, and protect the environment around seed hole,” he said.
He said that under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme, the problem of lack of skills and knowledge base of farmers, shortage of inputs, limited access to market information and marketing facilities, limited access to finance and limited security of tenure will be a thing of the past.
Mr Zakariya said cotton farmers including women, who have traditionally had challenges with access to tillage and irrigation facilities can benefit from the Pfumvudza/Intwasa.
“Many female smallholder farmers do not have draught power and cannot afford irrigation equipment and Pfumvudza/Intwasa has presented a better option, as they only have to make planting stations (holes) while mulch will help in moisture conservation,” he said.
He added that the Pfumvudza/Intwasa initiative promotes climate-proofing agriculture by adopting conservation farming techniques and involves the utilisation of small pieces of land and applying the correct agronomic practices for higher returns.
Mr Zakariya also pointed out that farmers who are delivering their produce to the Grain Marketing Board should be paid on time to make sure that they buy enough inputs as they prepare for the summer cropping season.