Farmers encouraged to grow drought tolerant crops

By Liberty Mutamba

PLANTING of traditional grains, which are favourable in the dry-prone Region 5, is the solution
that will see the rainbow province alleviate starvation-related issues, Agricultural and Rural
Development Advisory Service Chief Director, Professor Obert Jiri, has said.
He said this while addressing a gathering that had come to witness the graduation of 48 farmers
in Matobo District last Friday. 
The graduates completed a Master Farming and Nutrition programme at the prestigious Valley
Irrigation Scheme.
These farmers have practical knowledge to uplift the local community. Master Farmer graduates
are equipped to seedlings, pesticide and harvesting. This on its own has distinguished them from
general famers. Having community farmers with knowledge in this jurisdiction will eventually
turn agriculture into business, which is the backbone of the economy, said Professor Jiri.
Matabeleland South Acting Provincial Director of Agricultural Rural Development and Advisory
Service, Mkhunjulelwa Ndlovu, echoed Professor Jiris sentiments and said planting traditional
grains, which favour Region 5, which is characterised by low rainfall was the way to go. 
Our province is situated in Region 5, where we receive low rainfall, we then opted for
traditional grain, which favours our region. We are experiencing change in the province since. 
Other farmers should embrace this notion for the betterment of our livelihoods, said Ndlovu.
Valley Irrigation Scheme has already made significant contributions to the food basket in the
The Secretary of Valley Irrigation Scheme, Silayezelo Moyo, said under their 50 square hectares,
they had harvested 179 tonnes of grains, which were delivered to the Grain Marketing Board
(GMB) and the community.
We have also contributed one tonne to our schools as we seek to ensure food security in our
jurisdiction, 89 tonnes were channeled to GMB, while 84 tonnes was for our consumption. The
Compound D and Ammonium Nitrate fertiliser has immensely contributed to this. 

Our sunflower was, however, disturbed by the recent floods but we are anticipating 1,5 tonnes
per hectare, she said.
Matobo District Development Co-ordinator, Obey Chaputsira, said it was the Governments
determination under the National Development Strategy (NDS1) to ensure food nutrition and
security at household level.
The Government is making efforts in ensuring that people do not face hunger. Valley Irrigation
is a good example of this, he said. 
Under the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) under the NDS1, the agriculture industry is set to
contribute 20 percent of $8,2 billon by 2025.

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