Boost for small scale farmers

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Tendai Edwin Foto

Zimbabwe’s Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has started a major maize and small grains seed distribution programme.

GMB wants to avoid a repeat of the 2018/ 19 agricultural season marred by a Cyclone El- nino induced drought and in some cases late planting, which resulted in low yields.

Due to economic hardships, Zimbabwe’s communal farmers cannot afford to buy inputs but the   programme will give them a lease of life with each household receiving 10 kilogrammes of maize seed, enough to plant one acre.

Most small holder farmers in communal areas put two to ten acres under maize production.

Speaking on the side-line of the 2020/21 GMB strategic plan review workshop in the capital Harare, chief executive officer Rockie Mutenha said the granary is distributing short seasoned maize seed varieties and drought tolerant small seeds such as sorghum and millet under the Presidential Input Scheme.

“Masvingo, Matebeleland North and South is where we have pushed a lot of seed. GMB alone will push about 15000 metric tonnes of small grain seed and Seed Co has purchased 2000 metric tonnes to make it 17 000 metric tonnes of small grain seed. And that is targeting the entire country,” Mutenha told ZTN   explaining that the programme encourages production of small grains to mitigate against hunger.

Mutenha assured that security of silos is being prioritised to avoid fire outbreaks. This follows a fire that gutted the Lion’s Den grain depot in August 2018 in Mashonaland West province, 139 Kilometres west of Harare.

“So far we have not had any results from the forensic audit that was done to tell us what could have caused that fire but we have been pro-active to ensure that if its dust we have upgraded our dust extraction system.  We are putting sensors (in the silos) to tell us how much dust are in each bin so that we extract it,” he said.

Mutenha also expressed appreciation of the private public partnership in procuring and distributing agricultural inputs.