Lovemore Kadzura Rusape Correspondent
COMMERCIAL farmers in Makoni who planted winter wheat under the State-funded Command Agriculture programme are expecting a bumper harvest as the cereal crop is in good and thriving condition.Only 23 farmers in the district were contracted under the popular scheme and have planted a combined 1 189 hectares mainly in the Headlands area.
The take up declined from around 50 farmers last year as some pulled out due factors like lack of capacity and strict vetting that weeded out opportunists and corrupt elements.
When The Manica Post visited some of the farms on Tuesday, farmers expressed optimism that come harvesting time, which is around early October, they will reap a bumper harvest.
One of the farmers Retired Major Ernest Jinjika, of Lions Herd Farm, who has a thriving 11 hectares under wheat said the programme ran smoothly as they received all the required inputs on time.
Rtd Maj Jinjika, who is in his second year of wheat farming thanks to the Command Agriculture scheme, said he was expecting to get seven tonnes per hectare.
“Since I was allocated this farm, I had never attempted wheat because I lacked the expertise and the inputs were expensive. I only started to grow wheat in 2017, courtesy of the Command Agriculture programme, and since then, I am doing very well.
“I got all the inputs on time and everything is going according to plan. I am expecting to harvest seven tonnes per hectare. The Command Agriculture is the best agricultural finance option available for farmers. There are no stringent conditions attached it and farmers are realising good profits,” said Rtd Maj Jinjika.
White commercial farmer Mr John Stanger, who has a massive 80 hectares under the programme, said he was expecting eight tonnes per hectare from his thriving crop which is now at the dough stage.
He also urged Government to avail combine harvesters, which many farmers are struggling to acquire.
“My crop is very well as you can see. This year I received the inputs on time and I am expecting around eight tonnes per hectare. The only challenge farmers have is that of combine harvesters which are very few in the district. Government must come up with a scheme on combine harvesters,” said Mr Stanger.
Makoni agricultural extension officer Mr Joseph Chipere said the 23 farmers who took up wheat programme were mainly commercial farmers with all the necessary facilities to grow the crop.
He added that the wheat programme is progressing well without any major hindrance and farmers were most likely to produce high yields as the crop is healthy and thriving.
“This year there are 23 farmers whom we contracted under the Command Wheat programme which is a decline from the 50 we had last season. The decline, however, did not had too much impact on the hectrage which is 1 189.
“Wheat is a little bit complicated crop to grow as opposed to maize where we have hundreds of farmers under the programme. Only big commercial farmers took up the wheat programme because they have the necessary enablers that make the growing of the crop profitable.
“Farmers started planting early May and we availed everything that is on the contract. We are also making constant visits to the farms monitoring the progress and giving farmers expert advice. The crop is very healthy as the farmers are adhering to our agronomic advice. We are quite certain that we will get a bumper harvest in the district,” said Mr Chipere.