Writes Jeremiah Matambu

Most farmers in particular small-scale farmers have finished harvesting and shelling.

Some have already supplied their produce to the various markets, and some are keeping for family consumptions.

I would like to urge farmers that this is the best time for them to start preparing for the coming season.

Rainfall has been very erratic and in some areas it come earlier than expected, hence one should always be prepared.

Here are some of the tips and advice that farmers should do before the rainy season.

  1. Do your proper land preparation now if there is a bit of moisture in the soil. Some farmers did primary tillage just after harvest while moisture was still available. Sometimes during winter or just after, we have some light showers normally called “Gukurahundi”. It will be the right time to do your land preparation and some are diging plant stations prepare.
  2. Take your soils for laboratory test. This helps to understand the soil nutrients you have and will help in decision making on the amount of fertilizer, type of crop and variety that suit best the soil conditions.  Kutsaga Research Station, Windmill, ZFC. Agriculture Research Renter Centre, University of Zimbabwe and other institutions do contact soil testing. Seek advice of your local agronomist or extension officer on how you collect the sample for testing and interpreting the results.
  3. Ameliorate your soils through addition of lime, humus, animal manure and other residue. Application of lime is very important since it improves nutrient availability in your soil. Get advice from local extension officers on the type of lime and how you apply the lime.
  4. Purchase your inputs now. The advantage of buying inputs now is because you will buy them at far cheaper price than buying them during the rainy season. The demand will be high, and prices will be higher as well. Most cases suppliers run out of AN fertilizer during December period and that will affect your yield if timing is not correct. It also gives you ample time to look for the right product. I highly recommend farmers to organise themselves and do bulk buying. That will reduce your buying price, transport cost, and ultimately reduce your cost of production.
  5. Prepare your equipment, be it tractors, ox-drown ploughs, hoes, knapsacks, booms sprayers etc.

If you follow these steps, you will realise the difference between dedicated farmers and fly by night farmers.

New Words for the week

OPV – Open Pollinated Variety a type of variety that comes from the multiplication by free-pollination of a set of individuals and all the offspring are virtually the same.

Hybrid Variety– varieties are the result of crossing two different breeding lines coming out with a new offspring which has characteristics from the parent plants.

Jeremiah Matambu is an Agronomist and Quality Specialist based in UAE. For further consultations you can get him on jmatambu@gmail.com

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