AS the 2022/23 season beckons farmers are seized with input procurement and land preparation. These activities have intensified with the rains seemingly starting in the Northern parts of the country.
Below is a breakdown of the preparatory activities taking place countrywide:
Land Preparation and Input Procurement
The programme will support five Pfumvudza plots (39m x 16 m) (0, 0624 ha) per household with a agro-ecological region — 7 specific crop input package for maize, sorghum, pearl millet, soya beans, sunflower, groundnuts, vegetables and African peas. The package will also include water retention enhancers, herbicides package for 3 plots and fall armyworm control package.
The Zunde RaMambo scheme will support 10 plots for the Chiefs, 7 plots for headman and 5 plots each for village heads. Additionally, each chief will get a one tonne metal silo for grain storage. The programme will also target 500 000 urban farmers who will get one plot each of maize and one bag of fertiliser will be shared among three beneficiaries.
•Principles to inform the Pfumvudza /Intwasa Programme for 2022/2023 season
What a farmer produces is determined by the agro-ecological region
What the Government supports is determined by the agro-ecological region
Assume 2022/2033 will have erratic rains, in terms of commencement, distribution, and termination.
Based on the above assumptions, farmers in region 1 and 2 will get:
3 mandatory maize plots,
o2 optional plots comprising of sunflower, sorghum, pearl millet, groundnuts, African peas and sugar beans
Based on the above assumptions farmers in region 3 will get:
2 mandatory maize plots and sorghum or sunflower plot
3 optional plots comprising of sunflower, sorghum, pearl millet, groundnuts, African peas and sugar beans
Based on the above assumptions farmers in region 4 and 5 will get:
1 mandatory 1 sorghum plot, 1 millet plot and 1 sunflower plot
Two optional plots comprising maize, African peas, ground nuts, sorghum, millet
Cotton growing will be implemented through the Presidential Cotton Scheme with the adoption of two major innovations: (1) hybrid cotton seed; and (2) Pfumvudza programme with conservation agriculture principles. The programme also has a tillage component using reapers. The programme is expected to climate proof as well as increase cotton production and productivity in drier parts of the country where cotton has huge potential. The target is to put 285 000ha under Pfumvudza cotton from 520 000 cotton growers.
• The Presidential Inputs Scheme, private financers, CBZ and AFC will finance sunflower production.
The country’s annual requirement for crude sunflower oil is at least 70 000 tonnes, requiring an annual production of at least 210 000 tonnes from 262 000 ha. Current plans are aimed at accelerating the local production of short to medium season sunflower varieties capable of yielding 2.5 to 3t/ha.
Much of the country is likely to receive normal to below-normal rainfall for the period October to December (OND) 2022, except for the southern parts of the country where normal to above-normal rains are expected. The whole country is highly likely to receive normal to above normal rainfall for the November 2022 to January 2023 sub-season (NDJ).
The December to February (DJF) and January to March (JFM) 2023 period are expected to have above normal to normal rainfall for the western and southern parts of Zimbabwe while normal to above normal rainfall is likely over most of the northern and eastern provinces of the country.
Plant early with first effective rains after to increase the chances of good emergence, crop establishment, initiation of reproductive organs by:
Consider planting early to medium maturing varieties to take advantage of the normal to above normal forecast for the second half of the season
Dry planting two to two and half weeks before the start of the season.
Stagger plantings within 5-15 days of the first planting date
Moisture conservation by creating small water micro-catchments such as planting basins, tied ridges and so forth.
Mulching with dry or live mulch to minimise evaporation
Dry land farmers are encouraged to prepare land early for dry planting by the 28th of October. Farmers with supplementary irrigation are advised to plant early and start off their crop with irrigation until the main rains start.
Long and medium varieties in NRs I and II, and medium to short season varieties in NR III, with mediums better suit to areas bounding NR II where rains may be higher.
Medium to short season are advised for rain plantings, as indications are that the onset of rains would have reduced the growing season (period).
In Natural regions IV and V consider planting early maturing varieties of sorghum and pearl millet should be considered the first crops to be planted to minimize the effects of prevailing acute food shortages. Legumes crops can then follow. Dry planting should be considered an option
Increase the area under small grains and consider a basket of other crops such as cotton pulses and oil seeds.
Fertiliser, pest and disease management
Apply adequate organic and inorganic fertilisers to enhance competitive plant growth.
Apply half of the recommended rate of top-dressing fertiliser at 4-6 weeks after emergence
Timely and efficient weed management
Scout for pests early especially Fall armyworm. Institute management practices as soon as Fall armyworm and fall armyworm damage is noticed.
Soak (prime) seed for gap filling as early as it is realised emergence is poor.
Gap fill immediately it is realised timely gap filling
Increase the chances of good pollination, fertilisation and grain development by conserving the moisture from the first half of the season by practicing moisture conservation technics such as tied ridges, minimum tillage, mulching with dry material or spreading crops such as cowpeas, the cucumber family of crops and many others.