Conservation Agriculture Programme in partnership with Foundations for Farming
To complement the school feeding programme and provide an opportunity for families and schools to create their own sustainable independence we have partnered with Foundations for Farming to deliver training on Conservation Agriculture.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) Conservation Agriculture is key to the future of food security with the world facing climate change and 9 billion mouths to feed by 2050.
We are proud to have been pioneers of this method of farming, in our district, with more than 300 farmers benefitting and many thousand family members.
Every farming season we select disadvantaged families and schools to receive training and Pfumvudza (Shona for “new beginnings”) seed pack inputs. All methods are achieved at very low cost using only natural techniques such as compost making and home remedies for pest control.
The earth friendly, natural concept comes from years of research and a well calculated plan to feed a family of 6 for one year using 1/16th (one sixteenth) of a hectare of land. It is designed and proven to eradicate hunger in especially dry areas where people are impoverished and have no source of income – just like our district!
Principles of Conservation Agriculture are based on maintaining and enhancing soil structure: 1) minimum soil disturbance – no ploughing, zero or minimum tillage; 2) maintain maximum soil coverage – no burning, use mulch or crop residues; 3) composting and manuring, practice rotations using legumes – improve soil structure and nutrient status, breaks pest and disease cycles.
Those participants who have adhered to their training and used the principles have excelled and surpassed all expectations.
It is not unusual for families to produce 9 tonnes of maize as well as excess sorghum, spinach and tomatoes even through drought conditions.
By the next season our trainees have become mentors to neighbours, friends and family who witness and want to become a part of the transformation.
Kemukaka Primary School used their plot as an education tool to the older students who were able to take their knowledge home.
However it was the end of year yields they sold to the Grain Marketing Board (Zimbabwe’s prime source of grain) that gave them enough profit to build their first classroom block with 3 large classes and 2 storage rooms.
Families have surplus yield after feeding their family which they sell to improve their livelihoods.
Each participant is given a Pfumvudza pack which, like the Conservation Agriculture methods, has been calculated and developed to give a family 1 bucket of maize (their staple diet) each week.
To fill a bucket with shelled maize you would require 56 cobs weighing 300 grams each. If each maize plant produced at least one of these we would require 56 plants – as per the illustration below. Here is more detailed information on Pfumvudza and the Conservation Agriculture from the Foundations for Farming website.
A family with just a hoe can be the best farmers in the world. Our nation has the land, the families and the hoes!