GZU launches programme to incentivize traditional grains farming


Moses Ziyambi

The Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) has launched a traditional grains contract farming programme in the Chibwedziva area of Chiredzi district in Masvingo province as part of efforts to introduce adaptable agriculture to vulnerable communities
The programme is being implemented by the university’s Gary Magadzire School of Agriculture, with support from the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education Innovation, Science and Technology Development.
The occasion was graced by the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Professor Amon Murwira.
Under the programme, GZU will provide farmers with all the necessary inputs and technical assistance, and will buy their products after harvest.
Speaking at the event, Prof Murwira said it was high time local communities revisited traditional grains which were eroded by colonialism.
“This is a semi-arid area falling under Agro-Ecological Region V where people stand a better chance farming traditional grains rather than maize. Many farmers do maize despite its perennial failure. Colonialism misled into dumping what was good for us and we must now find our way back,” said Prof Murwira.
Speaking at the same event, GZU Vice Chancellor Prof Rungano Zvobgo said the university was incentivizing farmers to produce traditional grains through production contracts.
“We provide inputs, extension services for production of the traditional grains and buy the grain from the farmers after harvest. We are expecting to collect around 430 tonnes of traditional grains and sunflower from Gutu, Chiredzi, Chivi, Zaka, Mwenezi and Masvingo districts this harvest period from 220 sub-contracted farmers. At this launch we are witnessing around 60 tonnes from Chibwedziva alone,” said Prof Zvobgo.
He said traditional grains were a means towards greater food security owing to their unique properties.
“Research has shown that traditional grains have the potential to improve household food security in semi-arid regions because of their adaptability to such environments. Traditional grains such as sorghum and millets are drought tolerant compared to maize and require little input during growth. Traditional grains also have a longer storage life and are seldom attacked by insects and molds, making them an important risk avoidance strategy to achieve food security,” Prof Zvobgo said.
GZU has established agro-innovation and industrial park to contribute towards industrialization and modernization of Zimbabwe through traditional grains research, production, marketing and consumption.
The Innovation Center for Dryland Agriculture, which is situated in Chivi district, is inspired by the need to respond to the challenge of growing aridity in the face of climate change and variability in southern Zimbabwe.