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A2 farmers enter into joint venture with SA farmers

12 May, 2021 - 00:05 0 Views
A2 farmers enter into joint venture with SA farmers Minister of State for Matabeleland South Cde Abedinico Ncube (second from left) chats with farmers and investors from CapeZim Organisation and other stakeholders during a field day at Artherstone Irrigation Scheme in Insiza District recently

The Chronicle

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Gwanda Correspondent
LOCAL and South African farmers have entered into a joint venture at an irrigation scheme in Insiza District.

A field day was held yesterday and farmers in Matabeleland South were challenged to expand their production to ensure food and nutrition security in the province in line with Vision 2030.

Speaking during the field day at Artherstone Irrigation Scheme in Ward 6 in Insiza District, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in Matabeleland South, Cde Abedinico Ncube said incapacitated farmers had to explore public private partnerships to fully utilise their land.

The field day was held under the theme “Transforming Matabeleland South farmers into agri-preneurs who will contribute to the provincial GDP.”

The project is a joint venture between local A2 farmers and farmers from Cape Town in South Africa who have partnered to fully exploit the 800 hectare irrigation scheme which had been lying idle for about 10 years.

“When the President declared that Zimbabwe is open for business, these are the partnerships which he was promoting. The President strongly encourages and supports public private partnerships in agro-business entities for the attainment of agricultural growth.

“The Second Republic is not in support of the underutilisation of land attained from the land reform programme. Let’s have all the available land being utilised. I applaud farmers from Artherstone Farm for taking on board the Government stance on agricultural growth in the rainbow province. As a province we won’t rest until we attain the targeted GDP,” he said.

CapeZim director Mr Louis Le Roux said the irrigation scheme has a total of 800 hectares and so far 55 hectares was under irrigation with 25 hectares comprising lucerne which is fodder, 25 hectares with maize crops and five hectares with onions. He said the project kicked off in September last year with planting of lucerne while the maize crop was planted in November and onions were planted a few weeks back.

He said they harvest and bale lucerne which is stock feed and then supply local communities and also export it. Mr Le Roux said about R25 million had been invested in the irrigation scheme so far.

“We saw a good opportunity in the sense that there is good water, vast amount of land which is lying idle. There is good soil and we also realised the need for food in the community. This is just the start of the project and we are yet to expand,” he said.

Matabeleland South Acting Provincial Agricultural Officer, Mr Mkhunjulelwa Ndlovu said the project would ensure food and nutrition security in the province. He said five farmers were allocated Artherstone Irrigation Scheme but did not have the capacity to farm which resulted in a partnership with CapeZim.

“This project is also a learning phase for our local farmers as they are being taught that livestock can survive through irrigation. We want our farmers to practise balanced farming where we say you can irrigate pasture and irrigate crops and produce grain for food security within households. The investor is aiming for 1 000 hectares where 500 will go towards fodder production and 500 towards cereal production and other horticulture crops.

“Our province is a livestock area and preserving our animals through ensuring that they have quality feed is important. The lucerne crop is a protein source. During the dry season animals will be grazing on grass which lacks necessary nutrients but availability of lucerne hay will ensure that animals have quality feed. It’s a good supplement and once it spreads out throughout the entire province we will see animals performing well even during the dry season. It can be harvested a minimum eight times a year,” he said.

Artherstone Irrigation farmer, Mr Zenzo Jele said the partnership has assisted in boosting farming activities and they have high hopes for the future. — @DubeMatutu

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