A1 farmers in Dwala village Gwanda district have been encouraged to increase their participation in the command agriculture programme as the area which falls in ecological region 3 favours the production of the maize crop.

This came out during a field day held at Mr Agrishon Shiri’s homestead in ward 23 in Gwanda, who put three hectares of land under the command agriculture programme.

Mr Shiri is one of the eight farmers in Dwala resettlement area who participated in the command agriculture programme under dry land farming and is expecting to attain a yield of six tonnes per hectare.

The farmer commended the programme for addressing the challenge of inputs normally faced by farmers saying he is looking to double his hectarage this coming summer cropping season.

“Despite receiving good rains here, the price of inputs has always hindered us from producing well. However, through this programme, I received all the inputs I required, so I am not going back. Next season I am doubling my hectarage,” he said.

A representative of Seedco, Mr Wallace Banda urged farmers to use hybrid seed as they are assured of increased yields, while Agritex officer Mrs Ncube placed emphasis on staggering planting of crops given the current changes in rainfall patterns.

“Let’s also ensure that we take our soils for testing so that we are advised on what to do because if your soils have a low potential hydrate (ph) applying fertiliser may still not work in your favour,” said Mr Banda.

Mrs Ncube said; “The crop that was grown under dry land by farmers who were assisted by the command agriculture programme did well but we continue to urge them to stagger their crops to avert loses”.

Guest of honour, Gwanda Community Ownership Trust Administrator Mr Costa Nkala reminded farmers that the growth of the economy is dependent on the success of the agricultural sector, hence the need for their increased participation in the special maize programme.

“I am reliably informed that only 8 out of 223 households in Dwala are participating in the command agriculture programme. I therefore urge more farmers here to embrace this programme because you are in region 3, so there is no reason why you should not be able to increase agriculture production,” he said.

The farmers were further encouraged to take part in the command livestock, wildlife and fisheries programme recently launched by the government.

The field day that was sponsored by Seedco, who are one of government’s partners in the command agriculture programme, saw Mr Shiri walking away with an ox-drawn cultivator for excelling in the summer farming season in his area.