Mr. Dominico Chitingwiza, a dedicated urban smallholder farmer, has transformed his passion for farming into a thriving business. His commitment to providing high-quality produce while supplementing his income has captured the attention of the local community in Queenspark Suburb, Bulawayo.
The Beef Enterprise Strengthening and Transformation (BEST) project has transformed the traditional smallholder farming communities, especially in Mhlanguleni which previously relied largely on crop production as the primary means of income to sustain livelihoods.
Mhlaguleni, Chiredzi South based community builder and game changer, Hebert Phikela , has urged Lowveld subsistence farmers to switch to agribusiness to mitigate food insecurity and beat poverty.
As the winter wheat farming season approaches, smallholder irrigation farmers in Chiredzi are being urged to consider establishing block farming projects. This approach is considered one of the best for smallholder farmers as it offers numerous advantages, including increased access to markets.
Mr Chrispen Bvukuta is one of a few backyard gardeners who have realized the potential of ornamental horticulture in Triangle. While most of the gardeners have been producing vegetables mainly for consumption, Mr Bvukuta decided to utilize his backyard garden for income generation. He then ventured into ornamental horticulture in 2018, having been inspired by a neighbor who has been in the business for some time.
Urban farmers who are targeting export markets should consider investing in the production of peas, in rotation with other horticultural crops. Countries such as the Netherlands and France are importing snow peas mostly from Zimbabwe and Guatemala. The most common pea varieties grown in Zimbabwe are mangetout peas, sugar snap and shelling peas.
Peas grow well in cold conditions and in Zimbabwe, the crop can be grown between February and May. The optimum temperature for good growth is between 1℃ to 18 ℃. Extremely high temperatures will lead to poor productivity.
Pea can be grown on all types of soils but prefers well- drained sandy loam soils. Pea prefers soils that do not dry out. The soil should be rich in organic matter as it enhances better growth by supplying nutrients. Pea does not thrive in acidic, alkaline, or saline soils. It grows best at a pH of 6.5. If the pH is less than 6.0, then it should be amended using lime to improve the soil condition. It is highly recommended for farmers to consider soil analysis before planting. This will also inform nutritional requirements, fertilization depends on soil analysis.
Depending on the variety, the rows are spaced about 60cm apart and covered with 2cm of soil. About 70 to 75 kg/ha seed is required to plant out one hectare of crop. When planting, sow directly into the fields where it is grown to maturity or in pots in a greenhouse, for planting out. Germination occurs within 7 days of planting at most.
At planting, approximately 500 kg per hectare of basal compound C (5:15:12) fertilizer is needed. The crop should be top dressed at first pod set with potassium nitrate (13:0:46). However, soil analysis is essential to determine the actual fertilization requirements. Farmers can also apply manure instead.
Pre-sowing irrigation is essential for proper germination if the soil is dry. The frequency of irrigation depends on the type of soil and winter showers. Generally two to three irrigation intervals are required. Soil moisture deficit reduces growth and hampers nodulation. Furrow irrigation is used generally for irrigating pea but the sprinkler irrigation method is better. Moisture stress during flowering and pod filling severely limits yield and quality of pods.
Pest and disease control
Common pests affecting peas include pod borers, weevils, leaf miners, aphids, cutworms, slugs and snails. These can be controlled by chemical or cultural means. Cutworms for instance can be controlled by spraying with Lamda-cyhalothrin 5 EC soon after seedling emergence, while aphids can be controlled by spraying with Dimethoate 40 EC. Diseases such as powdery mild dew and wilt are among the most common. These can be controlled using fungicides and cultural methods such as early planting.
Harvesting and storage recommendations
Shell type and snap type: pick when pods are full, but not swollen. Large peas are tough and less sweet. Edible pod: pick before there is no seed inside the pod. Harvesting the peas every 3 to 5 days will prevent over maturity and stimulate the plants to continue to produce new pods. Harvested peas should be rapidly cooled to 0 ℃ to 1 ℃. Optimum storage conditions are between 0 ℃ to 2 ℃, and 90% to 98% relative humidity.
Having noticed the need for multiple revenue streams, the Marufu family in Bulawayo’s Sauerstown suburb decided to venture into urban agriculture to leverage the demand for horticultural products in Zimbabwe’s second largest city.