AT least 8 000 farmers have so far registered under Command Agriculture in Mashonaland Central Province, with the figure expected to treble when the summer cropping season begins.
Mashonaland Central provincial Agritex officer Mr Stancilae Tapererwa said registration began on a high note and they were targeting 72 800 hectares to be put under maize, while 20 000ha will be put under soya beans.
“Registration and verification for beneficiaries under the Command Agriculture programme is already underway,” he said.
“So far, 325 farmers have registered under Command Irrigation. These farmers have a total hectarage of 6 319ha.
“Under dryland farming, 7 295 farmers have registered. They have a hectarage of 24 344ha. Contract forms were distributed to all the district Command centres, save for Mbire.”
Mr Tapererwa said under the Command Soyabeans programme, they had registered 41 farmers with irrigation facilities with a total hectarage of 754ha.
A total of 363 farmers have been registered so far under dryland farming, with a total hectarage of 4 198ha.
Mr Tapererwa said Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri has since assured the nation that inputs under all Government-funded programmes will be availed before the onset of the rains to ensure they were put to good use.
“As a ministry, we are also encouraging the growing of small grains like millet, rapoko and sorghum,” he said.
“The seeds will be availed through local Grain Marketing Board depots across the country.
“Communal farmers are encouraged to grow at least an acre of small grains on their land, A1 farmers, a hectare and A2 farmers anything that is 10ha and above, depending on the plot size of the farmer.
“If this is embraced by the farmers, the nation’s food security will be guaranteed.”
Mr Tapererwa said the province was grappling with draught power challenges, something which will be addressed in the near future with the arrival of tractors from Belarus.
“Under the Belarus Tractors Scheme, 50-horse power tractors will be availed to A1 farmers, while A2 farmers will benefit from 75 to 100-horse power tractors.
“This will go a long way in ensuring that our farming becomes a success story,” said Mr Tapererwa.
His comments come at a time when Mashonaland Central is reported to have lost at least 5 633 cattle to tick-borne diseases from 2018 to date. The most affected district is Mt Darwin, which lost 2 342 beasts, followed by Mazowe which lost 1 796.
The least affected district is Mbire, which lost 68 beasts.
On the Presidential Input Support Scheme, Mr Tapererwa said at least 1,6 million households will receive maize seed and fertilisers, while 300 000 cotton farmers were expected to benefit across the country.