Pfumvudza expands access to quality seeds for smallholder farmers – TASAI report

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the herald

Sifelani Tsiko Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor

The Pfumvudza/Intwasa program launched by the government three years ago for climate-resilient agriculture and to ensure that smallholder farmers achieve high yields has helped the majority of smallholder farmers gain access to quality to support their livelihoods and help boost the country’s food security, the 2021 Africa Seed Access Index (TASAI) country study in Zimbabwe has shown.

Presenting the findings of the TASAI 2022 study, research team member Patience Nyakanda said the program has expanded access to quality seeds for the majority of poor farmers who often lack the resources to purchase seeds. seeds on the open market.

“The Presidential Input Support Program has been providing free inputs and seeds to farmers since 2000 and Pfumvudza has been instrumental in expanding access to quality seeds for the majority of smallholder farmers,” she said.

“In 2021, the four target crops (maize, beans, soybeans, sorghum) benefited from the program. The openness and transparency of seed procurement processes was rated as “good” (61%) due to the predictability of the process and its efficiency. »

Most African farmers are smallholders on less than two hectares of land and although they produce more than 80 percent of the food consumed on the continent, they often lack the high-quality seeds and inputs needed for many good yields.

Agricultural experts say improving seed availability for smallholders helps them protect their crops from pests, diseases and climatic pressures.

According to them, this is an important part of the solution to achieving a world free from poverty and hunger, as stated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Pfumvudza/Intwasa promotes the adoption of conservation farming techniques and involves the use of small plots of land and the application of correct agronomic practices for higher yields.

The Pfumvudza/Intwasa program is launched under the Presidential Contributions Program.

Under this program, farmers receive free inputs, fertilizers and chemicals as well as technical advisory services from Agritex extension agents.

The program has been praised for improving access to seed for smallholder farmers and for removing barriers that often prevent farmers from accessing seed in the market.

However, Nyakanda said seed companies have expressed concern over delays in government payments for seeds delivered under the scheme.

Experts also recommended sustainable seed availability strategies in case government or donor-funded free seed programs come to an end.

The TASAI report showed that there were 4,881 extension workers in 2021, of which 97% were employed by the government and 3% by seed companies in Zimbabwe.

During the 2022-2023 agricultural season, the Pfumvudza/Intwasa agricultural program aims to help smallholder farmers cultivate 1.9 million hectares of maize to help the country produce an estimated 3.2 million tons of maize per year. compared to a national requirement of 2.2 million tonnes.

Over 2.3 million smallholder farmers have so far been trained under the Pfumvudza–Intwasa program, while the government has distributed over 10,000 tonnes of maize seed and 50,000 tonnes of fertilizer during of the current summer season.

The African Seed Access Index (TASAI) initiative was created to help improve smallholder farmers’ access to a wider range of modern and more productive food crop varieties.

TASAI monitors the state of the continent’s seed sector and highlights issues that prevent seed from reaching farmers.

The initiative’s findings help encourage policy makers and development agencies to create and sustain enabling environments that will accelerate the development of competitive formal seed systems that serve smallholder farmers in Africa.

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