African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6691

Full Length Research Paper

An overview of current agronomic practices of smallholder farmers in semi-arid Central and Western Zimbabwe

Makuvaro Veronica
  • Makuvaro Veronica
  • Agronomy Department - Midlands State University P. Bag 9055, Gweru-Zimbabwe.
  • Google Scholar
Walker Sue
  • Walker Sue
  • Agronomy Department - Midlands State University P. Bag 9055, Gweru-Zimbabwe.
  • Google Scholar
Munodawafa Adelaide
  • Munodawafa Adelaide
  • Department of Land and Water Resources, Midlands State University P. Bag 9055, Gweru-Zimbabwe.
  • Google Scholar
Masere Tirivashe Phillip
  • Masere Tirivashe Phillip
  • Department of Land and Water Resources, Midlands State University P. Bag 9055, Gweru-Zimbabwe.
  • Google Scholar
Murewi Cyril
  • Murewi Cyril
  • Department of Mathematics, Midlands State University, P. Bag 9055, Gweru-Zimbabwe.
  • Google Scholar
Chagonda Ignatius
  • Chagonda Ignatius
  • Agronomy Department - Midlands State University P. Bag 9055, Gweru-Zimbabwe.
  • Google Scholar


  •  Received: 08 April 2011
  •  Accepted: 11 June 2014
  •  Published: 26 August 2014

Abstract

Smallholder farmer productivity in developing countries is limited by diverse biophysical, political and socio-economic factors. The objective of this study was to establish current agronomic practices of smallholder farmers in semi-arid Lower Gweru and Lupane areas of Zimbabwe and to identify possible research and extension interventions that may improve crop productivity of these farmers. Focus group discussions, interviews and desktop study were used to collect data. Horticultural production is the main livelihood in Lower Gweru, while field crop and livestock production are livelihoods in both areas.  Conventional tillage is the predominant tillage system. Important crops include maize (Zea mays L.), pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L) R.Br.), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L.) and groundnuts (Arachis hypogea L.).  Farmers grow both hybrid and open-pollinated maize varieties (OPVs) with more farmers in Lupane than in Lower Gweru, growing these OPVs. The number of farmers growing improved varieties of small-grain crops has increased, since mid 1990s. The method and frequency of weeding depends on tillage system used and availability of equipment as well as draft power. Adoption rates for technologies such as water conservation and use of adequate soil ameliorants as well as effective crop rotations are low due to limited resources. The study identified some research and extension interventions that may be employed to improve crop productivity in semi-arid areas of Central and Western Zimbabwe.

 

Key words: Smallholder farmers, agronomic practices, semi-arid areas, research and extension interventions.