Under the system, the potatoes are planted in 25 to 50 kg bags filled with fertile soil. Once the plant sprouts, more soil is gradually added to the bag until it is full. Returns from such controlled growth are said to be much higher than those from a crop that is put into the ground.
“In the family backyard, I grow more than 600 plants in the pockets and harvest some 1,200 kilograms of potatoes. The crop is of varying ages to enable harvesting every month,” said Theresa Muzanenhamo of Mabvuku, Harare.
Each plant produced an average 30 kgs of potatoes when harvested. Further, no damages were recorded during the harvesting process.
“When harvesting, farmers would simply empty the pockets and collect the produce without any damage,” said Joyce Muza of Chitungwiza, who adopted the farming method in August. Field potato farming yields no more than 10 kilograms of potatoes per plant, as some would be damaged during harvesting while others remain hidden in the ground.
Other families who have turned to the pocket potato growing method said that besides conserving the soil, this method helped them to turn around their fortunes. A first grade pocket of potatoes, weighing 10 kgs, fetches $15 on the market.
“After turning to pocket potato farming, my family’s income has been boosted significantly as the project contributes some $1,200 every month,” said Nervison Munemo of Sunningdale.
Besides maximising productivity, this type of agriculture does not degrade the soil. Steyl Peter, the vice president of the Commercial Farmers Union, said with good management, growing potatoes in pockets on a small scale could be very lucrative.
“Since the farmers do not employ anyone and farm in their own backyards they are able to make reasonable profits,” said Steyl.
Some co-operatives are reported to be trying the method out on a medium scale.Post published in: News