By Branton Matondo
With the summer season almost upon us, farmers in Honde Valley continue to intensify efforts to tap deep into the Harare market which has posed to be lucrative for sugar cane and banana produce amid concerns of a depreciating market in Manicaland.
The evergreen and equatorial “like” climatic condition in Honde Valley has for long been the bedrock for all year ploughing of organic and fresh farm produce which span from yams, bananas, sugarcane to pine apples, avocado’s.
Farming is a cornerstone of Honde Valley and the mushrooming of small and medium farmers has dwindled local Manicaland market, a feat that has caused flooding of farm produce in Honde Valley and places around Manicaland.
In a bid to have first hand information on the market dynamics in Honde Valley medium scale banana and sugarcane farmer John Mareya from Murara village told Post On Sunday that the major produce is banana and its seasonal neutrality has allowed producers to sell their produce in the capital.
“The major beneficial plant is banana because it is grown throughout the year, that is from January to December. However, another plant that is lucrative on the market is sugarcane. In terms of sugarcane they are harvested once per year and the returns are huge.”
Quizzed on the strength of the local Manicaland against the provincial market Kureya cited that a host of sugarcane and banana farmers in Honde Valley have diverted to the market in Harare considering the centrality of the capital and high business activity.
“Looking at sugarcane its a huge produce because a single harvest has huge returns. Sugarcane farming this side is pit based. Once the seedlings are ripe you get around 10 to 15 sugarcanes on average per pit, that’s a dozen per pit. As for me l usually seed a 1000 pits which is first grade sugarcane. In Mbare a dozen sugarcane goes for USD 9 to USD 10. For medium sized sugarcane a dozen goes for USD 6. So you can see that at the end of the day you earn something convincing.”
Post On Sunday got in touch with a small scale avocado producer identified as Sekuru Simbisi. He said the demand in Honde Valley for the butter pear is low and the situation has pushed them to tap into Harare market.
“As for me l focus on avocado’s. I sell them in sacks at Mbare musika and l have been in this business for a while now. The main reason why we sell our produce in Harare is that everyone in Honde Valley is a producer, and on top of that there is low circulation of money in Manicaland. This kills the market hence pushing us to Harare. In terms of avocado returns, they are not huge as compared to bananas and sugarcane. However, we have have so far survived on this produce.”
So far Manicaland agro sector has seen a rise in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Mutare Manicaland Agritex Provincial Head Phillipa Rwambiwa indicated that the province is experiencing an up trajectory in terms of agro output levels.
“We are also very happy that agriculture contributes about 15% of the GDP of Manicaland which is quite remarkable. This comes from the work that is being done by extension officers at ground level and the support programs that are there like the presidential support programmes that have come on board and also financing from the private sector making sure that farmers are able to produce.”
She added,” What we are advocating for is the value addition of these crops in order for the farmers to get more profit from their products.”
Farmers in Honde Valley cited that the need to value add their produce is there but resources and far and in between.
“As rising farmers we are aware of value additions and how it helps us to sell outside th country but resources are not available. We call the government to assist in any way possible,” added Simbisi.
Value addition has also been another major thrust in Manicaland with some farmers in Mutasa value adding their bananas into flour.