Seed Co awards maize farmers
Mary Muradzikwa Herald Reporter
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri has said the Presidential Input Support Scheme and Command Agriculture have been a boon for maize production and other crops. He said agricultural activities such as livestock production had increased because of the programmes.
Minister Shiri said this during Seed Co’s Eleven Tonne plus Club Promotion’s prize giving ceremony held in Harare on Thursday.
In a speech read on his behalf by his deputy, Cde Vangelis Haritatos, Minister Shiri said the introduction of Presidential Inputs Support Scheme and Command Agriculture had benefited the agricultural sector.
“We meet today against background of heightened food security for our country,” he said. “This has been due to the Government initiatives such as the Presidential Input Support Scheme and Command Agriculture Programmes.
“Owing to these programmes, maize production, in particular, has accelerated remarkably, most of this growth has been driven by increased yield per unit area.”
Minister Shiri said regardless of limited resources, Government was taking action on a number of activities to secure agriculture productivity.
“Despite limited budgetary resources, on our part as Government, through my Ministry, we are working on a number of initiatives to ensure agricultural productivity and the country’s overall economic growth,” he said.
“Some of these measures include boosting irrigation facilities, fertilizer use, access to markets and improvements in regulation.”
Minister Shiri said to meet the demand for grain to feed a growing population on the available arable land, annual crop production should be increased, even though crop production could progressively become more difficulty due to climate change, scarcity of resources and environmental degradation such as decline in soil quality.
He said initiatives such as Seed Co 11 Tonne plus Club Competition and agricultural technologies would improve crop and soil management practices.
“Initiatives such as the Seed Co 11 Tonne plus Club Competition, as well as ensuring that our farmers apply and extended existing agricultural technologies as directed by our Agritex officers would lead to substantial improvement in crop and soil management practices, which by and large are currently suboptimal among some of our farmers,” said Minister Shiri.
Seed Co managing director Mr Denias Zaranyika said an increase in production would reduce the country’s import bill and save foreign currency.
“Increase in productivity also has positive implications on import substitution and general national economic impact with respect to reduction in import bill and savings of foreign currency,” he said.
Mr Zaranyika said women and youths responded positively to the 11 Tonne plus Club Competition.
“I am encouraged by women participation in this competition,” he said. “They account for more than 10 percent while that of the youths are also significant.
“Women guarantee livelihoods, especially in rural areas and this is a fact. As a result of their great efforts in agriculture production, women help guarantee self-sustenance at both household and national levels.
“The youth on the other hand represent the future of both our country in general and agricultural production in particular. Kuda Kudenga and others are shining examples.”
The Eleven Tonne plus Club Promotion was targeting farmers with at least 11 tonnes per hectare of the firm’s seed varieties.
The number of farmers achieving the minimum threshold of 11 tonnes per hectare increased from 34 last year to 51 this year, with the top three winners winning grand prizes.
The company stated that a farmer must have 10 hectares under maize and at least produce 11 tonnes per hectare of maize to participate in the Seed Co Eleven Tonne plus Club Promotion.
The competition will enable the best farmers throughout the country to be rewarded for their hard work and Good Agronomic Practises (GAPs) in maize production.
The national winner was Kunatsa Estates from Mashonaland Central which harvested 21,2 tonnes per hectare using the SC727 variety.
The estate won an NP300 double cab Nissan vehicle.
The first runner-up was Osswell Chakwanda from Mashonaland West who harvested 15,1 tonnes per hectare and won a Nissan NP300 single cab, and the second runner-up was Adertrack Ngwizi from Matabeleland South, who achieved a yield of 14,7 tonnes per hectare using SC529 variety, who won a 60 horsepower tractor.