Blessing Rwizi Farming Correspondent
FOOD and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has this year secured groundnuts market for 30 farmers at Tonhorai Irrigation Scheme in Chimanimani.
The deal was hammered under the National Irrigation Rehabilitation Framework to support 80 irrigation schemes in Zimbabwe to the tune of six million Euros funded by the European Union (EU).
NIRF commenced in July 2014 and is expected to end in December this year.
Its main objective is to help improve income, food and nutrition security of smallholder communal farmers in Zimbabwe.
A total of 10 irrigation schemes in Manicaland were selected to benefit from the programme directly. These are Gudyanga, Tonhorai, Maunganidze, Musikavanhu A5, Musikavanhu B2, Mutema, Bwerudza A and B, Chiduku Tikwiri and Chiduku Ngowe irrigation schemes.
More than 840 plot holders are expected to directly benefit in these 10 schemes.
FAO has linked Tonhorai farmers to Paper Hole Investments (PHI) which supplies seeds and other inputs to farmers and buy the produce at the current market price.
It has trained farmers in good agricultural practices as well as look and learn tours in other irrigation schemes around the province.
Harvesting of the crop will commence early next month. Shelled groundnuts will be sold at 45 cents per kilogramme, while and unshelled groundnut go for $1 per kilogramme.
Each farmers is expecting to get at least $300 profit from every 0.2 hectares after selling their produce.
2016 best farmer of the year award winner at Tonhorai Irrigation Scheme, Mr Witness Chimhete, said: “Our scheme had almost collapsed, but FAO came to our rescue in 2014 and rehabilitated boreholes, pumps, canals and toilets. They also equipped us with the best farming practices. Our yields have greatly improved.”
“We now see farming as a business in this community. This irrigation scheme is also benefiting non-plot holders indirectly. Our livelihoods have changed and there is going to be more progress even after this NGO leaves. We have also been linked to institutions like Metbank and Agribank for inputs and seeds. Farmers in Tonhorai are now growing cash crops like beans, maize, tomatoes, onions, butternuts and groundnuts all year round,” said Mr Chimhete.
Addressing farmers at Tonhorai last Thursday, FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa, Mr David Phiri, expressed gratitude to EU for the funds towards the rehabilitation of irrigations in Zimbabwe.
“Progress is now visible in the schemes and I like to thank EU, Government and other stakeholders. FAO shall continue to source more funds, ideas and resources towards more projects. I also want to thank farmers in Tonhorai and other surrounding schemes for their commitment and hard work in everything,” said Mr Phiri.