Story by Gay Matambo
THROUGH the Agric4She programme championed by the First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, women in the Chizvirizvi area, Chiredzi East Constituency, are bullish of a good harvest after heeding the government’s call to produce traditional grains as a way of enhancing food security in the face of growing climate change challenges.
55-year-old Cecillia Jonasi is one of the women in the Chizvirizvi area who embraced the production of traditional grains and is currently expecting close to 100 tonnes of sorghum from her 26-hectare plot this harvest season.
At a field day held at her farm over the weekend, Ms Jonasi celebrated the success of traditional grains production after having purchased a tractor.
“Since I started growing sorghum and other traditional grains, my life has changed for the better,” said Ms Jonasi.
“The only challenge I have now is that my farm is big and harvesting is always a lot of work.”
“We are also appealing to the government to give us more traditional grains inputs because we have realised that traditional is the solution to the climate change challenges we have been experiencing,” she added.
With climate change having made the growing of long-term seed varieties like maize unpredictable, other women in Chizvirizvi who planted sorghum are confident of a good harvest.
“We have noticed that if we grow maize we normally do not have a good harvest and ever since we adopted traditional grains production fully, we have never experienced hunger in our area,” said one of the farmers who spoke to ZBC News.
“I have managed to build a house and I have even bought a car through growing traditional grains. I can safely say that in dry areas like our area, sorghum and millet is the way to go,” noted another farmer.
Another farmer weighed in, “I planted my sorghum in December and my crop did not get enough rain but because it is a small grain crop, I’m confident that I will have a good harvest.”
The objectives of the Agric4She programme also came under the spotlight during the field day.
“Agric4She programme seeks to encourage rural women’s participation in agriculture and rural development,” stated Masvingo Province AGRIC4SHE Focal Person.
“It also seeks to improve household, ward and national food, nutrition and income security while promoting diversification farming at a household level,” she went on.
With the Chiredzi district in the dry region, agriculture experts are excited about the focus on traditional grains which are drought tolerant.
“We have seen here best farming practices. The host farmer has 26 hectares under sorghum,” said Masvingo Provincial Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory Services Acting Director, Mr Nobert Masiyiwa.
“It shows farmers here now understand that growing traditional grains is the solution, in drought-prone areas like Chiredzi because traditional grains are drought tolerant, unlike maize.”
He added, “Under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme last year the government started allocating inputs according to climatic regions and as you can see these are the fruits.”
The success of traditional grains production in Chizvirizvi is expected to inspire other communal farmers situated in drought-prone areas across the country as the government’s focus shifts to climate-smart agriculture.