Beitbridge farmers are set to benefit from the velvet bean contract farming programme.
52 hectares of land in Beitbridge is under irrigation as 83 farmers have been sub-contracted to cultivate the velvet bean crop which is mainly for the production of stock feed.
Beitbridge farmers are using boreholes and the sand abstraction technology to make a living out of micro-irrigation projects as they are part of the velvet bean seed multiplication programme.
Beitbridge has suitable climatic conditions for crops like velvet bean that do better under dry and hot conditions, as it only needs moisture and weeding, with no application of fertiliser given that the legume produces its own nitrogen.
The crop is a key ingredient to stock feed production, the foundation seed and its multiplication is vital as the country tries to come up with strategies to save livestock from drought.
Mr Public Sibanga, a farmer in Makakavhule in Beitbridge, who has benefitted from the project, said he is expecting a yield of two tonnes per hectare at a selling price of $1650 per tonne.
“I am happy that this will bringing in the much-needed income as I will sell the beans to local farmers who are in need of stock feed as they are faced with drought,” said Mr Sibanga
Beitbridge Crop and Livestock Production Officer, Mr Orpheous Ndlovu said the project is a game-changer for Beitbridge given that the district is ideal for the crop and has abundant underground water.
“The climatic conditions are ideal for the crop and farmers are beginning to fully exploit the underground water sources to irrigate and produce stock feed for the ranching sector in the district, ” said Mr Ndlovu.
Mr Ndlovu added that farmers benefiting from the programme are in Chituripasi, Chaswingo, Rukange, Lutumba and Swereki.
The seed multiplication programme is critical for the massive production of the crop and can reduce the import bill of crops such as velvet and soya beans.
The project is being supported by the Catholic Relief Services and the International Livestock Research Institute.