Government recently launched the $USD500 million command agriculture scheme with at least 2 000 farmers being expected to benefit from this new agricultural initiative aimed at ensuring food self-sufficiency in Zimbabwe.
Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development is expecting to yield two million tonnes of maize from the 400 000 hectares of land underutilized in the previous years.
By Cisco Eng. Shingie Lev Muringi
However, local farmers continue to use outdated conventional methods of farming which no longer suit the ever dynamic climatic conditions.
Governent should start adopting technology driven farming tactics which are currently developed by young technocrats from Universities and Polytechnics in order to boost production. One good example of such innovative farming methods which the government can commercialize include Clive Nyapokoto’s famous Vermi Aquaponics System.
Clive Nyapokoto’s VA System won the Energy Globe National Certificate Award at the prestigious 2016 Energy Globe Award Ceremony in Rosebank, South Africa in June this year. Scooping such an honorary award clearly shows that if the system is commercialized very well, surely it can yield good harvests for the nation considering that its now a tried an tested smart agricultural system.
It is a smart soil-less farming system which can be modeled to suit any climatic region for food production and can be done as vertical indoor/ outdoor farming. Sensors are used to remotely monitor and control the system. Sensed data can be visualized on different web platforms.
In addition, the VA system uses worms as a waste management tool in order to convert kitchen and paper waste into rich organic fertilizer which can then be used for organic agriculture. The worms are used as nutrition for fish and chicken. Chicken droppings and small livestock waste is used to feed the fish supplementing the worms and to maintain PH levels in the fish tanks as well as bedding for the worms.
Fish waste rich water is used to grow the plants in a soil-less environment (Aquaponics). Fish waste rich water is used for Aquaponics which is a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment.
The greatest advantages of adopting such smart agricultural systems is that the nation can save a lot of money when acquiring inputs for farmers since overhead costs for fertilizers can be reduced by substituting them with the smart organic agriculture system.
Addressing delegates at the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) 2016 congress in Victoria Falls early this year, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said government had come up with a command agriculture scheme involving 2 000 farmers and the mandate for each farmers was to at least produce 1 000 tonnes of maize.
“A distinct advantage of the project is that it is self-financing, with each participating farmer being required to commit five tonnes per hectare towards repayment of advanced loans in the form of irrigation equipment, inputs and chemicals, mechanised equipment, electricity and water charges,” VP Mnangagwa said.
The farmer retains all surplus produced for personal use.To complement the food self-sufficiency thrust, government has also introduced the National Livestock Strategy aimed at resuming beef exports to the European Union, Middle East and other markets.
However, despite the command agriculture scheme being a welcomed move to boost agricultural production in Zimbabwe, factors such as continuous change in climate must be factored in so that innovative means of weather forecast, costs cutting and plant monitoring are put into place to keep track of good harvest.