By Stephen Ephraem
CHIPINGE: A small grain scheme that the government of Zimbabwe has embarked upon seeks to reduce hunger in the dry areas of Chipinge.
Funded by United Nations through its food security agencies, World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Small Grain Production Project 2019-2020 on sorghum, cowpeas and Marketing and Group Development shall be implemented by government department of Agricultural Technical and Extension Services (Agritex).
According to Agritex officials who facilitated a training workshop last week in Chipinge District Agritex boardroom, Manicaland Province shall see the project undertaken in Chipinge, Chimanimani and Buhera districts. The three districts have some of its parts lie in hot-dry regions that include Natural Farming Region 5.
Agricultural Extension Specialist Mr Blessing Nekati in an overview of the project said, “In this era of climate change it is very noble for farmers in dry areas to embark on the production of small grains and legumes which are drought tolerant like cowpeas and sorghum.
“The program started in Mudzi and Rushinga districts in 2016, was introduced in Chiredzi, Mwenezi and Mt Darwin in 2017 and this year it has been expanded to Chipinge, Chimanimani and Buhera districts,” he said.
According to Mr Nekati, Chipinge and Chimanimani are also in dire need of food following the destruction of their food sources during Tropical Cyclone Idai of March 2019.
Senior Agronomist Kennedy Mabehla emphasised the need for good farming techniques during their demo periods.
“Each ward shall set up a demo plot where target farmers under the Lean Season Assistance shall be trained to monitor the crop and keep records of such so that they can graduate from receiving food aid to own producers,” he said.
Chipinge District Agronomist Mr Mangaiso is confident that the small grain scheme shall alleviate hunger.
“Over the years, there was a reduction of food production especially in the Valley of Chipinge due to poor rainfall. Growing of small grains means full utilisation of land since there is guarantee that grains won’t fail in the Lowveld,” he said.
Chipinge District Agricultural and Extension Officer, Tapiwanashe Chagwesha encouraged field officers to pass the knowledge to beneficiary farmers.
“Agritex officers must not be selfish with the knowledge you have learnt here. This knowledge must be passed on to farmers so that they can also apply new farming techniques,” said Mr Chagwesha.