via TIMB rolls out drip irrigation system | The Herald November 28, 2015
Samantha Chigogo Herald Correspondent
More than 100 000 small-scale tobacco farmers are set to benefit from a drip irrigation project being spearheaded by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board to boost yields.
Speaking during a tour of drip irrigation schemes in Beatrice on Thursday, TIMB public relations manager Mr Ishemunyoro Moyo said drip irrigation, coupled with early planting, was vital in mitigating the effects of climate change.
“Climatic change has been impacting heavily on our yields and we have come up with this project as a way of helping our farmers adapt to the effects of climatic change,” he said.
“We have embarked on this pilot project to promote small-scale tobacco farmers because the country has been producing poor yields due to late planting. Tobacco requires early planting and with this system, we are able to promote our yields as we believe if this project is fully promoted, it will benefit over 100 000 farmers in our database,” Mr Moyo said.
“Tobacco farmers have been planting very late and yields are bad so we have come up with this idea to promote early planting, which usually begins in September or early October.”
Mr Moyo said the project was targeting mainly A1 tobacco farmers.
“We shall engage farmers under a loan facility to acquire the drip irrigation kits and these will be repayable under a period of two years,” he said.
“Our main aim here is to upgrade A1 farmers into producing hybrid tobacco and with low rains experienced these days, the project is indeed a top- notch initiative.”
Mr Moyo said the loan facility was not based on strict collateral and all small-scale farmers in the TIMB database could benefit.
“We have not set any collateral for farmers as such because we do not want a situation where these farmers fail to benefit because of strict collateral requirements, we just want to promote the growth of tobacco in the country,” he said.
“However, this project is open to all farmers in our data bases and we will be capturing them through our track records, which will provide evidence that we are dealing with consistent farmers who produce good results at the end of the day.”
Farmers welcomed the project saying it would go a long way in promoting and improving tobacco grades.
“Overhead sprinklers are expensive and the drip irrigation is cheaper and it conserves water, the system operates in a low pressure and also uses low volume watering system, which delivers the rightful amounts water at rightful areas,” said Mrs Grace Gohori, a small scale tobacco farmer.