Communal farmers here have been urged to adopt new grain storage technologies and granary models that reduce post-harvest losses to improve food security.
Farmers in Zaka are bracing for very low harvests of grains such as maize and sorghum, following a difficult farming season due to low rainfall despite inputs support from Government’s Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme.
In an interview yesterday, Zaka Agritex officer Mr Felix Gova said grain storage required special attention as most farmers were losing out to pests such as the larger grain borer due to poor storage facilities adding that ,farmers could only win the battle against plant pests and diseases if they manage to identify them early.
“Smallholder farmers in communal areas have been losing grain harvests, especially maize ,due to poor storage facilities,”he said. “They can now effectively store their grain in metal silos and super bags ,which helps to prevent post-harvest losses and improve global food security.”
Mr Gova added that metal silos and hermatic bags were developed as valid options and proven effective in protecting stored grain from attacks by grain pests.
“New technologies in grain storage such as the use of hermatic bags for smaller grain quantities and metal silos have proven to be effective as they prevent invasion of rodents as well as disrupt the necessary conditions for pests to thrive,” he said.
“Farmers can go on mountain tops claiming that they have produced enough for their families and surplus , but there are genuine fears that their achievements can come to naught if they do not engage in proper post-harvest strategies.
“This farming season, we urge farmers to be on the lookout for the devastating larger grain borer which poses a real threat to our harvests,” he said.
He urged communal farmers to work closely with field extension officers in the fight against crop pests and diseases. Mr Gova said Government, through the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, has availed chemicals to farmers in order to contain the pests.
“For us to win the battle, we need to detect the larger grain borer early. Farmers also need to form community crop rescue teams to guard against the spread of pests and diseases during the post-harvest period,” he said.
Research conducted by the University of Zimbabwe in 2016 in Mbire and Hwedza districts showed that the hermatic bags and metal silos were capable of cutting off oxygen to weevils that damage grain.
The trials tested a range of possible grain storage options , especially in the context of the emergence of the larger grain borer, which has become a serious threat to household and national food security in the wake of the ongoing climate change.
In a separate development, Seedco Mr Geoffrey Magavhu warned farmers against buying pesticides from bogus dealers as this militated the fight against pests and diseases.