Mashudu Netsianda in Beitbridge
AT least 1.8 million households will be assisted with farming inputs ahead of the 2018/19 as the Government steps up efforts to boost food security in the country, Acting President Kembo Mohadi has said.
Speaking during the launch of small grains programme at Lutumba business centre in Beitbridge district yesterday, the Acting President said the Government is committed to alleviating food insecurity through the free distribution of seed packs and fertilizer under the Presidential Agricultural Inputs Programme. He urged communities living in areas characterised by a low rainfall patterns to prioritise growing small grains, which are largely drought tolerant.
“Small grains are drought resistant and require minimal inputs in terms of fertiliser, chemicals and land preparation. The efforts at national level to grow small grains are in tandem with the initiatives by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) such as sorghum and pearl millet. The Presidential Inputs Scheme is this year better prepared compared to previous years. The input scheme package has improved significantly in line with the nutritional challenges of the country and the observations by the Zimbabwe Vulnerable Assessment Committee (Zimvac), “he said.
Acting President Mohadi said the cropping season inputs are being distributed according to specific regions suitable for a crop. He urged researchers to channel their thoughts at discovering solutions to the challenges that contend with an increasingly changing environment.
“We take note that whilst drought is climatic that cannot be prevented, we can, however, initiate interventions to curtail its effects on our people. This will help develop resilient ecosystems and mitigate the impacts of drought.
“Our people have been given land and now need the skill and knowledge of farming if they are to excel and deliver increased yields to ensure better livelihoods,” he said.
Acting President Mohadi noted with concern that despite dismal performance of the maize crop over the years, most farmers in drought prone areas continue to ignore Government advice to venture into small grain production. He urged traditional leaders to take a leading role in encouraging people in areas with low rainfall to grow small grains.
“Our chiefs should encourage people in areas that fall under Region 5 such as Beitbridge to grow small grains. The situation coupled with inconsistent rainfall patterns and the arid conditions now common as a result of the changes in climate, have led to the perennial flop of maize production by our farmers. The launch of the small grains programme derives importance from the urgent realisation for change in our perceptions and attitude towards the farming of small grains,” he said. — @mashnets