Seed com­pa­nies urged to ed­u­cate farm­ers

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Kudzai Chikiwa

SEED com­pa­nies and donors should ed­u­cate farm­ers on seed va­ri­eties to en­sure they grow the right crop suitable for their re­spec­tive farm­ing re­gions, an ex­pert has said.

In an in­ter­view, Fed­er­a­tion of Farm­ers’ Unions (FFU) pres­i­dent Mr Won­der Chabikwa said the ma­jor­ity of farm­ers were not for­mally trained at agri­cul­ture train­ing in­sti­tu­tions hence they need to sup­ple­ment their com­mon knowl­edge about farm­ing.

“Most farm­ers in Zim­babwe are pas­sion­ate peo­ple in ru­ral ar­eas or on plots who did not go through for­mal train­ing at agri­cul­ture train­ing in­sti­tu­tions so you can­not ex­pect them to know about seed vari­a­tions and rain­fall pat­terns.

“We, there­fore, urge seed com­pa­nies and donors to train farm­ers not just do­nat­ing or sell­ing them seeds,” he said.

Mr Chabikwa said most seed houses flight eye-catch­ing ad­ver­tise­ments point­ing out high yield po­ten­tial of their prod­ucts but giv­ing less de­tail on how farm­ers can achieve bumper har­vests.

“Es­pe­cially with maize, seed com­pa­nies ad­ver­tise the yield po­ten­tial in tonnes with­out ex­plain­ing fur­ther on the de-mer­its of grow­ing such a breed.

“Farm­ers rush for crops with high yield­ing po­ten­tial with­out knowl­edge on how they are grown and the cli­matic con­di­tions suitable for it.

“This is why you see farm­ers in re­gions three, four and five end up grow­ing crops that re­quire high rain­fall in­stead of drought tol­er­ant crops that suit their rain­fall pat­tern. It is sim­ply be­cause their fo­cus will be on yields more than the crop de­mands,” he said.

He said it was crit­i­cal for farm­ers to be taught on weather fore­casts and how to grow crops that are suitable for a cer­tain sea­son since tem­per­a­tures and other con­di­tions vary sea­son­ally.

He said due to the pre­vail­ing eco­nomic chal­lenges farm­ers tend to use any seed do­na­tion some of which may not be suitable for their re­gions.

“Farm­ers in­vest their money and equip­ment such that they wouldn’t want to make any loss.

“If for in­stance a farmer grows a high rain­fallde­mand­ing crop in re­gion five, it means there is need for ir­ri­gation. If there is no such ser­vice then the har­vest fails. This costs the na­tion which largely de­pends on agri­cul­ture,” he said.

He en­cour­aged farm­ers to grow small grains since the rain­fall is pre­dicted to be nor­mal to below nor­mal this sea­son.

“Those who have not yet planted should avoid maize be­cause it’s too late, let’s go for small grain crops and def­i­nitely we will have har­vests,” he said.

The agri­cul­ture sec­tor is one of the coun­try’s eco­nomic main­stays that con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly to the Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct as well en­sur­ing food se­cu­rity.

In recog­ni­tion of the crit­i­cal role played by the farm­ing sec­tor, the Gov­ern­ment has in the past launched var­i­ous schemes such as the Pres­i­den­tial In­puts Sup­port Scheme as well as the Com­mand Agri­cul­ture Pro­gramme with a view to boost out­put in the sec­tor [email protected]

Mr Won­der Chabikwa

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