Assessment of benefits of floodplain recession farming in Mbire District, Mashonaland Central Province, Zimbabwe
Munodawafa, Fadzai, Tichazvipedza
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Food insecurity is a major challenge in Mbire district as the grain yield (maize and sorghum) from rain-fed farming are low due to erratic rainfall distribution (400 - 650 mm). The inhabitants of this area have resorted to floodplain recession farming as a way of boosting their food production. However, no studies have been carried out to assess whether the adaptation benefits farmers and the environment. A study was conducted to analyse the impacts of floodplain recession farming in Mbire District on household food security, soil fertility, environment and the community. Data was collected using questionnaires, key informant interviews, focus group discussions and soil samples from six fields. Soil samples were analysed for pH, Total nitrogen, Total Organic matter, phosphorus, potassium, soil moisture, calcium and magnesium. The soil analyses were used to create maps of individual fertility parameters through the inverse distance weighted interpolation method in ArcGIS. In the same fields, yield was estimated using the cob weight measurement method. Leaf samples were analysed for nitrogen and phosphorus to relate them to the soil fertility status. 30% of total number of households in each ward of the district have access to fields in the floodplain. The results from the farmers’ survey show that dry-land farming generally produces 0.2t/ha of maize while recession farming contributes 0.71t/ha. Field trials in the floodplain showed a yield of 1.32t/ha. Recession farming had more contribution (47%) to food security, according to the surveys than dry-land farming (24%), although leaving a deficit of 29%. In contrast, recession farming, contributes only 2% to household yearly income. Variability in access to floodplain land does not depend on gender (p> 0.05). However age has a predictive ability for access to floodplain land (p< 0.05), therefore 8.7% of variability (R2 = 0.087) in access depends on age. The analysis of topsoil of the floodplains shows that, there is great potential for maize production. Fertility is significantly higher in floodplains (p< 0.05) than in rain-fed field, which encourages growth of crops such as maize, beans and cowpeas. In conclusion, the potential of recession farming exists but the practice poses a risk on human life through attacks by hippopotami and the environment through cutting down of trees. Crop production is not be limited by fertility but rather the farmers’ management practices and there is potential for yield improvement.
floodplain Law and regulations
soil fertility and productivity
spatial interpolation methods