By Kenias Chivuzhe
MUTARE Rotary Club has unveiled a US$65 thousand support scheme for sunflower farmers in Headlands under a pilot project aimed at reducing crude oil imports.
The government has taken a deliberate stance to promote the growing of sunflowers under the Presidential Input Scheme as part of a grand strategy to improve agricultural productivity and save the country an annual US$200 million which is being gobbled by crude sunflower oil imports.
The drive has received support from the Mutare Rotary Club that has extended support to 20 sunflower farmers in Headlands.
“We are very grateful to the Rotary Club of Mutare for facilitating our grant application which has enabled us to buy equipment and inputs for Sunflower production. This has come at a time when the government is promoting the growth of sunflowers and we are looking forward to greatly improving productivity. Sunflowers have many products that we require as the local community, after producing oil we are looking forward to boosting poultry and cattle rearing through improve feeds,” said one farmer.
Rotarians and government officers spoke on the scope of the assistance and the need for value addition.
“We officially handed over a tractor, disc plough, equipment holding shed and inputs to 20 farmers under the Anoldine Sunflower Programme. We saw a need to support our farmers and complement government efforts to achieve vision 2030,” noted Maxwell Maforo- Anoldine Sunflower Project Coordinator.
Sunflower production is now a priority in many countries.
Ukraine was the world’s biggest producer of sunflower seeds in the 2018/19 season, accounting for 15 million tonnes, while Russia, the Great Plains in the United States and Canada are also major producers.
The growing of sunflowers helps detoxify garden soil and the crop is not only popular for producing cooking oil but also feeds, margarine and medical ointment.