The Agriculture Rural Development Authority (ARDA) has pledged to buy all crops and vegetables produced at Lungwalala Irrigation Scheme in Kariangwe, Binga to ease challenges of accessing markets currently being faced by small holder farmer members at the scheme.
This was revealed by the ARDA board chairman Mr Basil Nyabadza during a tour to assess production levels at Lungwalala Irrigation Scheme.
The initiative taken by ARDA is expected to stimulate participation by communal farmers at the irrigation scheme which currently has 219 members on 110 hectares and is also expected to encourage farmers to produce more and turn the district into a green zone that is food secure.
Mr Nyabadza challenged farmers to expand production adding his organisation will bring more tractors to assist them in the production of maize, small grain seed and vegetables at the irrigation scheme.
“Let’s join hands, we provide a market, you produce. Let`s work as a team and see where it takes us in 2018. What is already here we will buy the entire produce. We also want to make sure that before 2018 is out, we have a small milling facility here,” he said.
Matabeleland North provincial crop and livestock officer, Mr Dumisani Nyoni urged farmers to take advantage of the partnership with ARDA to increase food security and generate revenue within the district.
“You have heard for yourselves, Mr Nyabadza saying he will bring the Minister to this irrigation scheme, let us make sure they find us working and going forward. We do need not need to be dependants all the time, you never know with this partnership we might end up exporting,” said Mr Nyoni.
According to International Crop Research Institute for the semi-arid tropics regional and research programme director, Dr Moses Siambi, the partnership with ARDA has come at a convenient time and will compliment efforts that have been undertaken by Agritex and ICRISAT.
“For ICRISAT, we finished with our research but the research is not enough. Nobody can take research to the bank. You need money and i think our growing partnership with ARDA now will really put money in the pockets of the farmers,” Dr Siambi said.
The main focus of the visit was to assess the seven hectares of small grain seed, a project funded to the tune of $10 000 by ICRISAT.
The small grain seed which is being grown for the second time, produced seven and a half tonnes in the previous agricultural season and a new target of 12 tonnes has been set for the current crop.