Umguza — The government is targeting to produce more than 250 000 tonnes of grain in the dry and wildlife infested Matabeleland North province through its "Climate-Proofed Presidential Input Support Scheme", also known as Intwasa/Pfumvudza conservation farming.
Matabeleland North has seven districts with Umguza's Nyamandlovu area, Binga's Lusulu and Hwange's Matetsi the only areas with viable crop production.
Crops in Matetsi are however every year destroyed by wild animals while the other districts are either dry, rocky or covered by Kalahari sands which makes crop farming a challenge.
Launching the intwasa/pfumvudza input scheme in Umguza on Tuesday, Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo, who is also MP for the area, said the aim was to sustain food sufficiency and allow the country to move away from the tradition of importation on strategic commodities.
"Matabeleland North cereal target has been pegged at 250 000 tonnes to be delivered to GMB. The farming method adopted will be conservation agriculture (Intwasa/Pfumvudza) concept and it involves holing out and mulching.
"As we strive to improve agricultural production, let's make maximum use of land. We need all farmers to partake in the production of strategic crops. We encourage farmers to take this government initiative to produce crops like groundnuts, cowpeas, vegetables and cash crops such as cotton or food production for both human and animals.
"As we are experiencing climate change, farmers are urged to conserve and utilise the moisture by practising conservation agriculture (Intwasa/Pfumvudza) with the assistance of extension officers," said Moyo.
He said under the input scheme, farmers are urged to have three plots each, one for household grain, another for GMB grain researches and the third one for oil seed for national oil reserves and stock feed.
Moyo said research by government had shown that one plot could feed a family of six for the whole year.
He said the 2020/2021 programme was running under the Intwasa/Pfumvudza flagship with the intention to achieve sustainable food security at household level and ultimately national food security.
"Food security and nutrition targets at creating self-sufficient and food surplus economy which will see Zimbabwe re-emerge as the breadbasket of Southern Africa. As you know that our economy is agro-based and agriculture has therefore been targeted as the sector that will lead to recovery of the economy.
"As we strive to improve agricultural production, let us make maximum use of land as this is critical for the success of the land reform programme. Climate Proofed Presidential Input Support Scheme is a programme aimed at supporting vulnerable households to produce maize with a standardised input package of 5kg seed, 50kg basal and 50kg top dressing fertiliser as well as fall army worm chemicals," Moyo said.
He said the concept was being standardised throughout the country and only those who adopted it were eligible for the Presidential inputs support.
Moyo also appealed to the private sector to help support farmers realise the goal.