Presidential input support scheme boosts sunflower production

By ZBC Reporter

SUNFLOWER production has doubled in Manicaland province after support came through the Presidential Input Scheme, in a move expected to improve availability of locally-produced cooking oil.

The inclusion of sunflower production on the scheme has improved the uptake of the strategic crop that is expected to eliminate crude oil imports valued at around US$200 million annually.

Farmers in Nyanga who took up sunflower production for the first time after benefiting from the Presidential Sunflower Input Programme are confident of a bumper harvest.

“Due to climate change, sunflower requires half of the rains needed by maize crop. When we process sunflower, we utilise everything hence the crop is highly beneficial to farmers.

“We were encouraged by the Second Republic that we should grow crops such as sunflowers and I encourage other farmers to consider sunflowers.

“We are looking forward to benefitting not only cooking oil from our sunflower, but also stock feeds. We have our chicken, pigs, goats and cattle. We are looking forward to producing cooking oil and supply the local community,” said farmers who spoke to the ZBC News.

An agriculture extension worker in Nyanga, Francis Chidyamapika highlighted the advantages of sunflower production.

“A farmer requires only five to six kilogrammes of seed per hectare, eight bags of compound and 10 bags on top dressing. Sunflower is less expensive to plant with some crops being harvested after two and half months. We are looking forward to our farmers to get three tonnes per hectare,” he said.

Launching a new sunflower variety in Headlands at a Pfumvudza Demo Plot field day this Wednesday, Manicaland Acting Director Agriculture and Rural Development Services, Philipa Rwambiwa revealed impressive figures in sunflower production after hectarage doubled from last season.

“Sunflower is a crop that government is urging farmers to grow. The crop helps us to produce cooking oil and eliminate its import. Sunflower will make the country be cooking oil secure,” she said.

“We urge all farmers to grow sunflower. Some were given seed by GMB hence we urge farmers to grow sunflower. This will result in the country saving foreign currency. Last season Manicaland had 4 000 hectares of sunflower and this year the hectarage doubled to 8 000 hectares.”

A combination of Ideal climatic conditions and consistent government support is expected to see more farmers venturing into sunflower production.