Farmers must enter into joint ventures and effectively utilise the land to boost productivity, while bolstering exports that generate foreign currency.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga yesterday urged farmers to practice mixed farming to increase productivity and curtail risks associated with crop failure.
He made these remarks after touring Bally Vaughan Farm in Goromonzi.
He was accompanied by Mashonaland East Minister of State Aplonia Munzverengwi, Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri, Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi, Finance and Economic Development Deputy Minister Clemence Chiduwa and Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza, among other senior Government officials.
VP Chiwenga cited the example of Brigadier-General (Retired) Victor Rungani and former Mutoko East Member of Parliament, Cde Rocky Mawere who are in a joint venture with Mr Ben Mavros and Barry Stewart at Bally Vaughan Farm where they are growing different crops and supplying both local and export markets.
The farm has 50 hectares of potatoes where they are harvesting 60 tonnes per hectare, 24 hectares of foundation seed maize and are expecting a harvest of between eight and nine tonnes per hectare. They also put 20 hectares under popcorn, seven hectares of granadilla, six hectares under chillies.
The farmers have also taken heed of Government’s call to increase wheat hectarage this season and are contracted under Command Agriculture to grow 100 hectares of wheat.
Vice President Chiwenga said joint ventures were a noble way of ensuring no land was left idle.
“We are our own creators of wealth; we are our own masters of land. The land must be fully utilised. Through joint ventures you will be able to do much better and use every piece of land. Joint ventures and partnerships add value to what farmers achieve on their own.
“We encourage such types of partnerships and as Government we will provide necessary support when required. Without co-operation among ourselves there is nothing that we can achieve,” he said.
VP Chiwenga also urged farmers to grow different crops to ensure that if one crop failed another would perform assuring the country and households of food and nutrition security.
“Mixed farming is the best way of dealing with risk. If you plant one crop and that crop does not perform well you risk losing everything. We have seen a good example of mixed farming here.
“We have seen that they are growing foundation seed, which they are going to sell to seed houses. Their early planted wheat is promising to give good yields. This is a good farming method, which we are encouraging all our farmers to consider. We can go back again to be the breadbasket not only for the region, but even beyond,” he said.
Minister Shri said it was important that farmers worked hard to finance their own industry rather than look for assistance from other sectors.
“Value comes from the land. Our own sector has so much potential to grow and develop its own wealth. It’s high time farmers become highly productive.
“Joint ventures can turn around the economic fortunes of this country.
“We have farmers with land, but have limited technical or financial capacity. They can identify a partner who can fill in that gap. In business there are many approaches that boost competitive advantages.
“Joint ventures can add value to farm operations,” he said.
Minister Shiri added that Command Agriculture was another route that farmers could take to boost production and productivity.
Under Command Agriculture, the farmer approaches a bank and Government acts as a guarantor and also offers technical expertise through extension officers.
“Farmers can also have outgrower schemes or contract farming.
Deputy Minister Chiduwa said he was happy with the joint ventures, which concentrate on producing for the export market.