PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday challenged farmers to embrace technology so they can work smarter, not harder, to improve yields.
Speaking to farmers at his Pricabe Farm in Sherwood, Kwekwe District, yesterday at a Seedco field day, President Mnangagwa called on farmers to put extra effort in increasing crop production and value addition so that they break-even or realise profits from agriculture.
He showcased new farming technology that has been adopted at his farm, which allows farmers to remotely control agricultural activities through their cellphones even when they are thousands of kilometres away.
He said: “This young brother of mine (Patrick, the farm manager) said to me that we needed to explore how other farmers were now conducting business. He then went to Google on the internet and identified a company called Agrico from South Africa.”
Agrico, President Mnangagwa said, has technology which one can install on a cellphone and use the device to control farming activities such as irrigation and quantities to be involved.
“He spent a week there and when he came back, I saw that he had learnt new things which I didn’t know. I said to him that I was now aware of the technology he brought and permitted him to try it. It was new and I was not used to that type of farming”.
So it was a success, even if he comes to Harare, he is able to irrigate his crops over the cellphone, he can decide to switch on or off let’s say pivot number nine while in Harare, he can even control pumps at the river to pump water,” he said amid ululation and clapping of hands by dignitaries and other people gathered.
President Mnangagwa said value addition would also see farmers cutting down on imports.
He said to aid adoption of new farming technologies and techniques, Government has introduced a new farming concept called Pfumvudza to maximise productivity per unit area, even during drought periods, to ensure household and national food security.
Pfumvudza involves the utilisation of small pieces of land and applying the correct agronomic practices for higher returns.
The approach can be used in marginal areas and still give high yields.
“Anywhere you are, plant 52 lines of maize on 38 by 16 metres of land. Your small gardens if used properly can produce buckets of maize for you to feed your family. A year has 52 weeks, each week you consume a line. In a year or two we want to fight hunger.
“Each house should be able to implement this kind of farming so that they are able to have food for consumption and some to beautify the homestead and improve the livelihood of the people. Here (Pricabe Farm) we are self-sufficient which is very possible for all of us.
“We grow vegetables and potatoes. We have milk and that is very achievable. Wherever you are you can use the land to the maximum. We also learn from others and you can do the same,” said the President.
He commended seed house company Seedco for making the event a success.
The President said the country could eradicate hunger if everyone took an interest in farming.
“If we all embrace new forms of farming such as Pfumvudza, our country will be food sufficient. If a farmer walking on the road happens to meet hunger, the hunger will divert and run away. That is where we are supposed to go,” he said.
The guest of honour, Minister of Defence and War Veterans Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, spoke of the effects of climate change.
“We have to engage in serious farming so that we are able mitigate against the effects of climate change. Now we have dams which we can use for irrigation but are not being fully utilised.
“There is a programme for irrigation as we work on increasing our hectarage under irrigation to mitigate against climate change,” said Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri.
Also in attendance were the First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, Cabinet Ministers who included the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa, Zanu-PF Central Committee members and Zion Christian Church (ZCC) leader Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi.-zp