24 April 2019

Zimbabwe: 'Mechanisation Is the Key to Productivity'

Government should continue assisting farmers with mechanisation programmes to improve productivity on farms which are heavily under-mechanised after the land reform programme.

Speaking with The Herald after scooping the top award for Young Champion Farmers awards in the Maize A2 Farmers category in Harare last week, youthful Karoi farmer Mr Kudzai Gasho said mechanisation would enhance productivity for indigenous farmers.

Mr Gasho, who relocated from Kiev, Ukraine, to take up full-time farming, was honoured for clocking 10 tonnes per hectare during the 2017/2018 agricultural season by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement's Youth Desk.

"I think the country is still heavily under-mechanised," he said. "We need to improve productivity on the farms if our vision to become a middle-income economy by 2030 is to be achieved."

The 31-year-old farmer said President Mnangagwa's Smart Agriculture Initiative which seeks to improve productivity can help farmers increase their yields, hence the need for mechanisation.

"This will definitely increase productivity on the farms and help Zimbabwe's agricultural sector become a major exporter of its produce, thereby retaining the country's breadbasket of Southern Africa status," he said.

Mr Gasho described winning the award as surreal after ditching his office job in Europe for farming at his father's farm, adding that it was a great motivation to do more on the land.

"The 2017/2018 agricultural season was generally kind to the farming community and the country received above normal rainfall and that played a significant role in enabling me to achieving better yields," he said.

"I also used the Seed Co 727 maize variety which is a hybrid seed and resistant to dry spells."

Mr Gasho said the current agricultural season also provided farmers with lessons especially on the need to invest in irrigation equipment in case of unfavourable weather.

"I have invested a lot in heavy machinery at the farm so that I enhance my activities, including acquiring irrigation equipment, tractors and other farming implements," he said.

The Karoi farmer said he has also bought a pellet feed-maker from South Africa as he has diversified operations at the farm to include stockfeed production through the recently established Kundash Stockfeeds.

"I intend to add value to my produce and I believe this will enable me to unlock value from my produce," he said. "I am actually excited about the whole project as it is a gateway to other facets of agriculture. In this instance animal husbandry."

Mr Gasho is a beneficiary of Government's Command Agriculture programme which targeted farmers who would take part of their produce to the Grain Marketing Board for the Strategic Grain Reserve.

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