Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
THE country’s leading seed producer, SeedCo Limited has embarked on a programme to enhance rural transformation through increased agriculture support to smallholder farmers in Matabeleland region.
The organisation’s agronomy and extension services manager, Dr John Basera, said they were running a seed multiplier programme at selected irrigation schemes in Matabeleland region. This involves the production of sugar bean seed, mostly under irrigation farming. Under the initiative farmers, Government and the private sector would work together for a common goal.
Dr Basera revealed this during a recent field day at Tongwe Irrigation Scheme where SeedCo is supporting 75 plot holders with implements and seed to produce sugar beans seed.
“This is a programme whereby every player in the sugar bean value chain comes in to bridge the gap. This could be inputs, seed provision and working capital and even marketing related,” he said.
Dr Basera said the set up enabled development partners to complement each other to boost agricultural production.
“You will note that farmers are a critical player in this value chain so what we are doing is to support them with inputs right up to marketing stage of the value chain,” he said.
Dr Basera said smallholders were being capacitated to maximise productivity as a way of fostering rural transformation.
“Basically we want to see a shift from subsistence to commercial farming,” he said.
Dr Basera said 67 percent of the country’s population lives in the rural areas hence it was important to develop their economies from household to community level.
“If ever we get their development right, then we are able to get everything else right. These are issues around inclusive economic growth and are centred on developing the rural economy. What we want is the growth, which starts with a farmer. We want to improve economies at household level,” he said.
Dr Basera said enhancing food security was one of the pillars of the envisaged Vision 2030. He said that sugar bean seed production was being rolled out in Matabeleland region where climatic conditions were optimal even in winter.
“For instance, at Tongwe irrigation scheme, we started with 14 hectares in 2018 and now we have increased to 27,4 hectares. The plot holders here have the zeal and capacity to produce more under irrigation.”