Smallholder sugarcane farmers say they have the potential to produce more and surpass their target if fully capacitated through skills development.

Since 2004, when he got his 18 hectares of land through the land reform programme in Mkwasine Estates, Mr Elias Nyatowo has never surpassed 130 tonnes of cane per hectare. However, this year, he is singing a different song as he is projecting between 150 and 160 tonnes of cane per hectare and the trick to his success story has been training.

It is an achievement that has prompted the Zimbabwe Sugarcane Development Association to host a field day at his farm so that he can provide a learning model for other farmers.

“For the past years, I have been trying my best, buying inputs, fertilisers and irrigating in time, but I did not know that it was not all about getting things done in time. After receiving some training, I realised the need for soil sampling, a stage that will determine the way one grows their cane, the amount of fertiliser needed and water for irrigation,” Mr Nyatowo said.

Chiredzi District Administrator, Mr Lovemore Chisema said smallholder sugarcane farmers have got the potential to increase yield once they are capacitated.

“This is a very good example of cane farming as you can see these smallholder farmers are committed. However, many lack proper skills and knowledge of sugarcane farming. It is important that they are trained on how to properly prepare their fields and other sustainable methods of cane farming,” Mr Nyatowo said.

Following the introduction of the devolution of power concept by the government, Chiredzi District is looking forward to benefit immensely from sugarcane farming which remains at the centre of Chiredzi District’s economy and also bring the much-needed foreign currency into the country, hence calls for maximum production.