|Small grain production boosts yields|
|Friday, 14 September 2012 00:00|
Stakeholders in the agriculture sector have urged farmers to take up small grain production to boost yields for the 2012/2013 farming season.
Speaking in separate interviews, the stakeholders said small grain crops were drought-tolerant making them better performers in poor seasons. Zimbabwe Farmers Union director Mr Paul Zakariya said it was important for farmers to grow small grains such as millet, sorghum and rapoko.
He urged the Government to intervene and assist farmers with resources for water harvesting and conservation.
“We are beginning to experience drier weather patterns and unless there is irrigation, farmers in region 3 where drought has been predicted should stick to small grains.
“It is also important that government assists farmers and invests in drip irrigation for quality produce. They should also support farmers with infrastructure and training of extension support. In countries like Israel and Yemen there are no rains but they have survived over the years through proper irrigation schemes,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Farmers Union vice president Mr Garikai Msika said weather forecasts should also be relevant to government in making decisions that facilitate smooth operations during the planting season.
He also urged farmers in areas that will receive normal rainfall to plant drought tolerant crops to boost yields.
“Even in areas that receive good rainfall we are urging farmers to grow crops such as soya beans that require less rainfall,” he said. Zimbabwe Farmers Union second vice president Berean Mukwende echoed similar sentiments.
He also appealed to government to facilitate the rehabilitation of dams in most parts of the country to improve irrigation.
“Zesa should re-connect disconnected farmers for dams to become functional and resume irrigation programmes. The current Zesa rates are 14 cents per kilowatt/hr and farmers cannot afford. The government could create an irrigation fund that has conditions that are relaxed to promote rehabilitation otherwise there will be more imports of maize.
“The forecast gave us enough time to prepare and distribute our knowledge and resources for a better farming season,” he said.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union first vice president Mrs Maidei Maswi encouraged farmers to move their livestock to areas where there is enough water and better pastures.
“We have created fodder banks where fodders are packed in one area and boreholes are drilled making it easier for livestock to access food and water. We have engaged government and public partnership to put irrigation to alleviate the situation,” she said.
The Meteorological Services Department Zimbabwe forecast normal to below normal rainfall for the 2012/13 farming season.
However, some parts of Matabeleland South, Midlands and Masvingo provinces are expected to experience severe drought. Regions 1 and 2 would receive normal to above normal rains, while region 3 was expected to receive normal to below normal rains.