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Traditional grains contract farming programme launched in Chiredzi

Story by Gay Matambo

THE Great Zimbabwe University Gary Magadzire School of Agriculture has partnered with smallholder farmers in Chiredzi to boost the production of traditional grains in the district.

Zimbabwe has grappled with climate change over the past two decades, with farmers in areas under Natural Region five, including the Chiredzi district, having borne the brunt of its negative impact.

This is seen in the Great Zimbabwe University Gary Magadzire School of Agriculture launching a traditional grains contract farming programme in the Chibwedziva area of the Chiredzi district to promote the production, processing, marketing, and consumption of traditional grains.

“Under the production contracts, we provide inputs, and extension services for production of the traditional grains and buy the grain from the farmers after harvest. We are expecting to collect around 430 tonnes of traditional grains and sunflowers from Gutu, Chiredzi, Chivi, Zaka, Mwenezi and Masvingo districts this harvest period from 220 sub-contracted farmers. At this launch, we are witnessing around 60 tonnes from Chibwedziva alone,” said GZU Vice Chancellor, Professor Rungano Zvobgo.

Contracted farmers were all smiles this Thursday as they spoke of the many benefits of growing traditional grains.

Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Innovation Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira revealed that a modern grain processing plant has been established at the GZU Innovation Centre for Dry Land Agriculture in Chivi.

“The production capacity of the grain processing plant is 50 tonnes per day, reaching around 20 000MT annually. This means GZU has to have a very strong traditional grain production base to sustain the plant’s operations throughout the year. This is why I’m officially launching this programme today. This traditional grains contract farming launch is culminating in the launch of the GZU milling company, which will process and market various traditional grain products,” he said.

The government’s concerted efforts in aligning crop production to agroecological zones were also brought to the fore.

Increased production of traditional grains, maize and wheat, is set to see Zimbabwe becoming food self-sufficient through local production.

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