Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
Farmers in Middle Sabi have recorded massive improvement in productivity this year due to the Command Agriculture programme and partnerships with private investors who have injected funds for the revival of irrigation schemes and provided skills to ensure best practices.
About 80 farmers are being financed under the Command Agriculture Programme funded by CBZ Bank.
Other farmers are being assisted by other partners such as Agri-Alliance, Green Fuel and Makata Bananas. Agri-Alliance is working with 11 farmers on cotton production, while Green Fuel is working with three farmers on sugar cane production and Makata Bananas has partnered three farmers on fruit production.
Most farmers in the Middle Sabi inherited the farms during the Land Reform Programme, but have faced challenges over the past years, which saw the exceptionally fertile area recording a significant decline in production.
The new partnerships have however, helped in reviving irrigation infrastructure, which helped to ramp up production of almost all crops.
Middle Sabi farmers’ syndicate chairperson, Mr Skumbuzo Thondhlana said the farmers have overcome the challenges they faced before and are now equipped to make meaningful contribution to the food security of the country.
“When we inherited these farms, we faced many challenges. We could not properly irrigate the plantations and there were also diseases, which we could not manage because we did not have enough knowledge about citrus,” he said.
“We also had little knowledge about the markets, so most of the plantations got destroyed. We have had investors coming in and helping us to change the way we were working.”
Middle Sabi farmers recorded good yields this year after putting 280 hectares under winter maize in partnership with the investors.
Other crops being targeted by the partnerships include bananas, lemons, mangoes, pecan nuts and avocado.
Most of the fruits being produced are targeting export markets and will bring the country some much needed foreign currency.
Government has over the years been intensifying efforts to enhance agricultural productivity to improve food self-sufficiency and reduce the import bill.
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