Mashonaland West Bureau
Agritex has been directed to replace long-term maize varieties distributed under Pfumvudza with shorter ones to cushion against the effects of a shorter season.
With most parts of the country having received meaningful rainfall towards Christmas, it has been noted that farmers will not be able to realise any meaningful yields from medium and late seed varieties.
Addressing Agritex officers in Mashonaland West province and Zvimba peri-urban farmers at a Pfumvudza demonstration plot near Banket yesterday, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka, said it was important for the department to withdraw the long-term varieties for the province to deliver 50 percent of the nation’s maize and other grains target.
“Mashonaland West province is key in terms of production and 50 percent of the deliveries to Grain Marketing Board (GMB) should come from here,” he said.
“We need to mobilise and motivate all the farmers to prepare land where they haven’t and where they have, to begin to plant, but to plant very short varieties.
“You (Agritex) should withdraw long season varieties of maize and ensure that they are replaced by short season varieties. We cannot expect a farmer to have a long term variety of maize and not plant when they have no short season varieties.”
Mashonaland West has set a target of 320 000 hectares of maize and to date, only 22 percent has been achieved owing to erratic rainfall patterns and acquisition of inputs from various programmes.
Provincial Agritex agronomist, Ms Siena Makaza, said: “Only 73 900 hectares have been planted out of the 320 000 and planting is still in progress although we are now encouraging them to plant short-term varieties from major crops like maize.
“For Agro-yield, we are targeting 75 000 hectares, but 7 900 hectares have so far been planted due to various including late clearing of debts by farmers and processing of new loans.”
Climate-proofed Pfumvudza Agriculture scheme has boosted this season’s yield prospects with 17 000 hectares from 404 000 households trained including 22 000 peri-urban farmers who have embraced the scheme.
Farmers have also been challenged to plant sunflowers which can be planted late into the season.
“Even if we have short seasons, our farmers will be able to harvest something from the sunflower that they can use to purchase food and other items.
“As a Government, we are mobilising the importation of sunflower seed from South Africa and already 2 100 have already arrived and we expect the rest within the next fortnight,” said Minister Masuka.
He also toured tobacco farms from Zvimba and Makonde district and expected to wind up his visits with Hurungwe district today.