Clinton Moyo, Business Reporter
FARMERS in Matabeleland region must put more land under horticulture crops as they are in high demand on the export market.
The call comes after the country’s trade promotion body, ZimTrade, identified market for horticulture produce in Botswana where the country contributes only 0,2 percent to the neighbouring country’s import bill.
Speaking on behalf of Matabeleland North Agritex provincial extension officer Mr Dumisani Nyoni at a field day held in Kingsdale last week, Matabeleland North extension officer Ms Charity Mapira said farmers should consider putting more land under horticulture produce.
“Horticulture crops were the country’s third foreign currency earner following tobacco and beef but now it has been pushed down the list. We are lobbying farmers to put more land under horticulture crops because the Government has also identified market overseas for these produce,” said Ms Mapira.
She added that hybrid crops were the best option as they are immune to some diseases.
“The hybrid produce usually give more yields and they are immune to some of these diseases that attack our crops, so it will be best if farmers could plant hybrids,” said Ms Mapira.
Presenting the 2018 national budget Finance and Economic Development Minister Dr Patrick Chinamasa had said the Government has set sights on extending support to horticulture farmers. He said although the programme would target both commercial and smallholder farmers it was largely focused on benefiting the former with the latter mostly participating as out growers.
Minister Chinamasa said some of these farmers would be requiring rehabilitation and expansion of irrigation infrastructure, access to handling technologies, market access, financial services and capacity building.
Meanwhile, one of the country’s leading seed suppliers, Prime Seed Co has said it will be able to supply maize seeds all year round through following complaints by smallholder farmers who could not access the seeds after the Government bought all of it under the second phase of the Command Agricultural programme.
Prime Seed Co sales manager Mr Silas Mutota said: “Seed will be available throughout the year, farmers can access them in all our shops in all provinces.”-@clintonmoyo2