By Stephen Ephraem
THERE is a scramble for commercial sesame production in the valley of Chipinge following an attractive market that has started in the area. Farmers can now sell the cereal locally as well as in the neighbouring country of Mozambique.
“A kilogram of sesame seed is being sold around US$0.80 in neighbouring Mozambique. This has tempted farmer to sell the crop outside Zimbabwe since there are no competitive price locally.
Those who marketed sesame have made better profit since the crop is easy to grow and requires little capital injection. Currently, the demand for sesame is higher than the supply, said Mr Tulani Thondlana of Checheche.
District extension officer for Chipinge Mr Tapiwanashe Chagwesha confirmed that sesame seed is being grown but at a low scale in Chipinge.
“Sesame seed farming has been grown in Chipinge but not on commercial basis. Many households grew this crop for home consumption especially those who cannot afford to buy cooking oil and peanut butter because the crop contain more nutritional benefits, said Mr Chagwesha.
Since the 1990s, areas of Chipinge valley which include Checheche, Chinyamukwakwa, Munepasi, Matikwa, Machona, Vheneka, Maparadze, Chisuma, Garahwa, Mabee, Rimai, Manzvire, and Matezwa and Rimbi has been popular for cotton production.
It is about three years ago that sesame growing started to be the talk of only a palm full of farmers since most grower still had faith in cotton, a crop which helped them to transform their lives back then and make Checheche a competitive growth point in the country.
Things took a new twist when buyers felt being shortchanged by merchants who offered payment using mobile transfers than actual cash. According to a farmer at Konjana who preferred to remain anonymous, the 2019-2000 payment method has frustrated farmers.
“Farmers have incurred huge losses owing to cotton being paid an attractive price. The situation has been worsened by the barter trade of using of grocery as payment method than cash during the 2019-2020 season.
“Farmers had used cash to pay for labour during weeding and picking of cotton. Growers expected to recover these expenses in cash form but the substitution of cash using grocery left the farmers counting their losses, he said