|‘Erect markets for local crop varieties’|
|Friday, 03 August 2012 00:00|
GOVERNMENT has been urged to open up markets for local crop varieties to boost earnings.
Farmers exhibiting at the just ended Zimbabwe Adding Value to Sustainable Agriculture Produce Fair (ZAVSAP) in Harare said they have developed different crop varieties over the past years.
However, they do not have ready markets for their seed.
Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe farmer Mrs Marjory Jeke said farmers in her area are into seed multiplication and have developed crop varieties suitable for low rainfall conditions.
She said the farmers have not been able to sell their seed at a large scale as they have not been able to break into outside markets.
“We have developed small grain varieties to reduce effects of climate change but we cannot access markets as in the case with established seed breeders.
“We are only exchanging varieties among ourselves and even if we sell, we make small profits.
“The situation could have been better if Government invests in locally bred varieties as these can do well in dry areas,” she said.
Mrs Jeke said farmers were relying on open pollinated varieties, most of which are indigenous.
“We plant open pollinated varieties for three seasons and this is less costly,” she said.
Another farmer Mr John Mutamuri said Government experts should assist farmers in seed breeding to create a seed bank for local crop varieties.
ZAVSAP is a network of local NGOs — CADS, Caritas Chinhoyi, Centre for Total Transformation, Community Technology Development Trust, Fambidzanai, Kufunda village, Kajiwa Development Co-ordinating Association and Lower Guruve Development Association.
ZAVSAP works with its members to improve the livelihoods of small-scale farmers, focusing on areas of food processing, nutrition and marketing.
The network organises training and exchange visits for staff and lead farmers in good nutrition and the preparation and processing of healthy foods from sweet potato and cassava, herbs, tomato, wild fruits, cowpea and soybean, among other things.
The network is now looking into value addition and marketing possibilities for poultry, pig and goat/sheep products.