Zimbabwe Agriculture Introduction in Brief
Agriculture is one of the economic pillars in Zimbabwe, with agricultural output accounting for about 20% of GDP. 40 percent of Zimbabwe export income derives from agricultural products. 50 percent of industry replies on agricultural products as raw materials. There is 33.28 million hectares of arable land. Agricultural population accounts for 67 percent of the population. The main grain and cash crops are corn, wheat, sorghum, soybeans, peanuts, tobacco, cotton, coffee, sugar cane and tea. The overall level of agriculture is relatively developed, known as the “southern African granary.” However, the development is very uneven, advanced commercial farms and backward village farming coexisting.
In 2014, corn production reached 1.46 million tons; tobacco production 216,000 tons, close to the best level in history; cotton production of 136,000 tons, down 6.2% over the previous year. Affected by drought, a large area of food crops failed since 2015. According to related statistics, there is one third of workforce employed in agriculture. Agriculture supplies 60 percent of raw materials for manufacturing industry. Commercial farmers purchase about 350,000 tons fertilizer per year, smallholder farmers about 100,000 tons.
In Zimbabwe, 62 percent of households are poor. In addition, Zimbabwe has faced food insecurity issue that would escalate the government political and economic crises. The supply of fertilizer in Zimbabwe has been affected by government policy, finance and infrastructure. Income is the key factor that drives farmers to adopt more effective and sustainable organic fertilizer production technologies. And smallholders are willing to adopt new production method when risks and limitations are reduced simultaneously.
Organic fertilizer has been paid great attention nowadays in Zimbabwe. There are droughts frequently causing from climate change. Because of global market requirements, tobacco farmers need to make production in green and sustainable method. In this way, to produce organic fertilizer is a great way because of its low cost in construction and promising development. On the other hand, fertilizer price is always rising so that it is difficult for farmers to buy chemical fertilizer. Therefore, organic fertilizer production is considerably higher than chemical fertilizer usage.
Organic Fertilizer Demand in Zimbabwe
Smallholder farmers use animal manure, crop straws and composts in gardens and plots for many years in Zimbabwe. Large volume of organic waste is generated nationwide in Zimbabwe every day. It faces environment pollution and waste management issue, but people have no efficient way to treat the waste. Because of arid and semiarid climates land, farmers suffer droughts and crop failures. In some areas in southern Africa most fresh water cannot be used because of contaminant and pollution. What’s worse, it faces soil degradation, leading to fragile and dry lands. Some western methods of cultivars are not suitable in low-rainfall climates.
To use pesticide and chemical fertilizer is expensive for small-scale farmers who have less than three hectare lands. The fertilizer supply in Zimbabwe is affected by government policy, finance and infrastructure. Farmers demand on fertilizer is driven by their ability to acquire fertilizer, water usage and fertilizer use knowledge. The government subsidy was affected by corruption and project failure. The government tried to distribute subsidized seed and fertilizer to farmers but most of farming community went to buy fertilizer from private sector though the chemical fertilizer is expensive and in short supply. How to improve crop production and soil property become smallholder farmers concerns. These vulnerable households also want to reduce fertilizer cost, lower bulk density, improve soil fertility and learn some organic fertilizer production technologies so that they can increase income.
Organic Fertilizer Production in Zimbabwe
Nico-Orgo is Zimbabwe’s pioneer and leading company in organic fertilizer production and distribution. The company enables organic fertilizer making develop from traditional way to modern way. Zimbabwe increases organic fertilizer production as well. Vermicompost(earthworm) organic fertilizer, organic liquid fertilizer and organic solid fertilizer are common form in Zimbabwe.
In fact, many raw materials can be used to make organic fertilizer, like bat-guano, animal manure, crop residue, etc. Zimbabwe is home to various caves with different guano deposits. They are great raw materials for organic fertilizer production because of high NPK contents. All organic matters can be collected from common market grounds, which is suitable for decomposing. Using organic animal manure to produce organic fertilizer pellets or compost is good way to help improve climate condition. In addition, commercial organic fertilizer production using animal manure as raw materials serves as promising field for increasing smallholders’ income. There are two methods for organic fertilizer making, organic composting making and solid organic fertilizer granules production.
Collect all materials that can be used for organic fertilizer making firstly. Make organic fertilizer compost piles in trapezium shape(1-1.5m height, 2m width, unlimited length). If your raw materials are in high water content, you should reduce water content to less than 60%, adding crop straws, cured hay, saw dust, etc. When you make compost piles, you can put some straws on the bottom, put your main organic fertilizer materials(animal manure, sludge, kitchen organic waste, etc.) in the middle of the pile and add straws on the top of the pile. And then control compost temperature. When the temperature is higher than 55℃, turn the pile once preventing too high temperature on the center of the pile. The whole organic fertilizer composting time needs 7-15 days.
※ Organic fertilizer granule production process
It needs large-scale commercial organic fertilizer production to meet farmers’ high demand on fertilizer. To acquire correct production technology and purchase suitable and high-quality fertilizer making are necessary for the production. There is complete organic fertilizer granule production process for commercial solid organic fertilizer making.
Raw materials dewatering→organic fertilizer composting and fermentation→crushing→organic materials mixing→organic fertilizer granulation→organic fertilizer sieving→drying→cooling→packing
See more organic fertilizer production technology
Organic Fertilizer Development Opportunities and Challenge in Zimbabwe
Organic fertilizer development in Zimbabwe, especially commercial organic fertilizer, is associated with opportunities and challenge. Effective regulations are needed by farmers to increase high-quality products yield. However, lack of awareness and backward infrastructure has negative impact on organic fertilizer development.
Bio organic fertilizer development opportunities are related to BNF potential, crop production and income increase. There is low N fertility in Zimbabwe lands. Organic fertilizer from animal manure or other resources has great BNF(biological nitrogen fixation) potential. It provides N element for plant growth, which is an economic and sustainable method compared to chemical fertilizer. It has been estimated that BNF can increase 19-58% for rice production. It also is good for non-legumes growth, such as sugarcane, wheat and maize. Using organic fertilizer can increase crop yield, which is recorded in the world. Soybean yield increases 2000kg/ha by using organic fertilizer in Zimbabwe. Obviously, higher nutrient efficiency, benefit cost ratio and reduced demand on chemical fertilizer are good for organic fertilizer market development and profitable for farmers, in addition to environment improvement. It is suitable for sustainable agriculture development guidance. As is known to all, fertilizer use is low in Zimbabwe leading to severe nutrient depletion. The more organic fertilizer uses, the better soil condition in Zimbabwe is.
As for organic fertilizer development challenge, it shows on nutrient availability, market development constraints, drought and pH value. Soil condition in Zimbabwe is not good and drought exacerbates nutrient depiction. In addition, farmers’ awareness on organic fertilizer production and application need to be strengthened. In this way, it needs the government to guide farmers to make and use organic fertilizer. Policy promoting and subsidy are also indispensable.