27 January 2009

Zimbabwe: Zero-Tillage Scheme Benefits Over 100 Families

Harare — MORE than 100 families in the Dzumbunu area of Mhondoro have benefited from a zero-tillage programme introduced three years ago by a group of farmers who had received training on the technology from River of Life Church in Mt Hampden, Harare.

Programme co-ordinator Mr Taurai Muzerengani said they adopted the method of farming after realising that most farmers in the community did not have animals for draught power and found it difficult to secure funding for inputs and other basic services in time.

"As a form of conservation farming, zero-tillage enables the farmer to plant without having to till the land first while there is very little if any, use of chemical inputs.

"Under zero-tillage we encourage farmers to use natural manure that ranges from animal droppings, crop or plant residues and even anthill soil that does not have any harmful effect to the soil and microbial organisms necessary for a good soil status," said Mr Muzerengani.

The programme had helped members vastly improve yields and subsequently their economic livelihoods as most of them were able to meet and beat planting deadlines using limited resources even in difficult seasons.

Farmers' yields had doubled and the number of fields lying fallow because of lack of tillage had dwindled while dependency on artificial fertilizers had also dropped significantly.

He added that the programme was getting a lot of support from traditional leaders and singled out Chief Nyamweda, whom he said was advocating running the programme together with the Zunde Ramambo scheme.

Next season every two villages should have a Zunde Ramambo project that uses conservation-farming methods to help boost food security at the household level, explained Muzerengani.

"All farmers are eligible for the scheme even if they may have animals or tractors for traction or the financial stamina to fund their operations.

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