Natasha Chamba, Business Reporter
AGRICULTURAL concern, Klein Karoo Seed Marketing Zimbabwe, will this year inject over $1 million into a sunflower out-grower scheme with the yield expected to be exported.
In a telephone interview, Klein Karoo managing director Mr John Makoni said his organisation had already partnered with over 1 000 small-scale sunflower farmers across the country.
“Indeed Klein Karoo has partnered with over a thousand farmers across the country to grow sunflower for the export market.
“The company has injected over a $1 million in buying inputs for the farmers,” he said.
“To assist the farmers throughout the project, we have disbursed agents in communal areas all over the country.
“The agents comprise sales personnel and an agronomist.”
Mr Makoni said his organisation had already secured an off-taker for the sunflower in South Africa.
“Our seed is top performing, to date we have managed to disburse seed that can produce 15 000 hectares of sunflower.
“A South African company will take up the sunflower and we are expecting to get returns of over US$3 million,” he said.
“We hope with this initiative, we can build a base of farmers that can grow sunflower and reduce the reliance on imports for cooking oil and any other end-products that come from sunflower since we have the capacity to grow the raw materials.”
Mr Makoni said his organisation has also partnered small-scale farmers to grow pastures for both local and the export market as a way of cutting costs for livestock farmers.
“We think that cattle and dairy farmers are reliant on processed feed which is expensive, but if pastures are incorporated in the diet this can significantly reduce their costs.
“We have also partnered with small-scale farmers and some of them have irrigation in their schemes while others do not have to grow the pasture seed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Klein Karoo has unveiled a high yielding wheat variety called peregrine.
“We have established a wheat variety which has a high yielding capacity called peregrine.
“The wheat variety has outstanding attributes and one of them is that it has potential of up to 7 to 9 tonnes a hectare.
“Also it matures early in about 113 days, saving the farmer money. It has a very good stand ability, is about 90cm in height, very good tolerance package, protein content of 11,2 percent, and is adaptable to both high and low potential areas,” Mr Makoni said.
Presently, Zimbabwe has a deficit in wheat production, which results in the country spending millions of dollars annually on wheat imports to cover the deficit.
The country needs between 400 000 and 450 000 tonnes of wheat annually.
Zimbabwe’s peak wheat production occurred during the 90s where in 1990, 1999, and 2001, the crop’s annual output peaked to 325 000 tonnes, 324 000 tonnes and 325 000 tonnes respectively.
Wheat production’s first steep decline occurred in 2002 after the Land Reform Programme when production halved to 150 000 tonnes, thereafter maintaining annual output above 100 000 tonnes until 2008 at the height of the hyperinflation era when production further dropped to 38 000 tonnes.
Between 2009 and 2016, wheat production continued on a downward trend as the area planted under the crop had drastically gone down due to challenges such as erratic power supply for irrigation among other production costs. — @queentauruszw