Old and new farmers urged to share knowledge

Harare June 6, 2012 (New Ziana) – There is need to bridge the knowledge gap between old and new tobacco growers in order to increase the average yield of smallholder farmers which has remained depressed, a cabinet Minister said on Wednesday.
Agriculture Mechanization and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made said this at a graduation ceremony for over 400 Agritex and tobacco growers at Kutsaga Research Station near the Harare International Airport.
Minister Made said new growers lacked adequate and appropriate training in tobacco production.
“This is evident from the current tobacco yields obtaining in the small holder sector,” he said.
Although current varieties have the potential to yield up to 4, 5 tones/ha, Made said the average yield for the smallholder sector remains depressed at below 1 tone/ha.
He said the opportunity lied in the ready availability of appropriate packaged information and relatively well educated grower base.
“The number of smallholder tobacco growers has increased from 7 000 in 2000 to over 50 000.
“It is in this context that I regard current initiatives aimed at bridging the information gap such as the Kutsaga Tobacco Improved productivity Sites (TIPS) and the Agritex “train the trainer” programme as critical in the development of small holder tobacco sector,” he said.
Made said tobacco production required use of on-farm calendar based practical and a business-oriented approach to improve productivity.
Speaking at the same occasion chairperson of the newly appointed Tobacco Research Board (TRB) Millicent Mombeshora said growth of the industry was underpinned by super quality seeds from the research board.
Mombeshora however said challenges in information gap between new and old farmers were affecting tobacco production and quality.
“There is a lot of non-adherence to stock destruction and the high rates of deforestation are a threat to the growth of the sector,” she said.
Meanwhile about 55 sites across the country’s tobacco regions were used as training centers where they went through theory and practical training.
Agritex and growers who excelled over others on the one year certificate programme received prices which included motorbikes, tobacco inputs, generators and cell phones.
New Ziana

Olivine targets 10 000 ha for soya beans this year

Harare May 28, 2012 (New Ziana)-Edible oils producer Olivine Industries will this cropping season spend US$1, 6 million contracting farmers to produce soya bean on 10 000 hectares, up from 2 000 hectares last year.
Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Agro-Industry Company (AICO) Africa Limited jointly owned Olivine Industries with a 51 percent and 49 percent stake respectively.
Shortages of soya beans, liquidity crunch and imported products have affected the company’s viability over the years.
AICO Africa Limited group chief executive officer Patrick Devenish said soya beans was one of the major raw materials at Olivine.
“We have been funding soya bean production in the country and in the 2012/13 farming season we are increasing the hectarage under contract farming to 10 000 hectares from 2 000.
“We want to ensure the availability of raw materials so we need more of the crop,” he said.
Devenish said the company would buy the product at prevailing market prices.
“Through contract farming farmers are guaranteed of a market which is one of the important things in farming,” he said.
“Farmers will be paid markets rates,” he added.
Soya bean production has been on the decline over the years due to lack of markets as local companies had reduced production as consumers preferred cheap imports.
Currently soya bean is fetching US$530 per tonne.
Established in 1931, Olive manufactures a wide range of consumer and industrial products such as vegetable oils, margarines, bakers’ fats, soaps, candles, dried beans and a wide range of canned foods.
New Ziana