Sunflower cultivation will become compulsory

the herald

Office of Nqobile Tshili Bulawayo

All communal farmers will soon be required to venture into sunflower cultivation as it seeks to replace imports of crude sunflower oil worth US$200 million.

The government has already started providing communal farmers with inputs to enable them to get involved in sunflower cultivation.

This will ensure that the country stops importing between 60,000 and 65,000 metric tons of crude sunflower oil from South Africa each year.

The government has included sunflower seeds among the inputs given to farmers this summer.

Sunflower seeds are accessible to the Grain Marketing Board, which has been challenged to distribute inputs as soon as possible.

Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr Anxious Masuka, said the government aims to place 120 hectares of land under sunflower cultivation in rural communities.

Dr. Masuka said the government plans to distribute at least 600 metric tonnes of sunflower seeds to farmers and in future this will be part of Pfumvudza/Intwasa’s agricultural inputs.

“Cotton and sunflower must be the main cash crops of the communes and former resettlement areas, which is why we plant a lot of sunflower seeds. We have received 417 metric tons and I expect another 150-200 metric tons to be added to the 120 hectares of sunflower if each household picks up their bag,” Dr Masuka said.

“This needs to be distributed as quickly as humanly possible so that every household makes sunflowers. In the Pfumvudza/Intwasa pack, sunflower is a compulsory crop for everyone because we cannot continue to import cooking oil for domestic use.

He said the government cannot continue to indirectly support South African farmers by importing their produce to the tune of $200 million.

“All the oils we use in the homes are largely imported from South Africa. So we’re spending $200 million to pay for imports and, in a way, indirectly help South African farmers produce more to export to Zimbabwe. We said that from this year we had to introduce import substitutions and be able to pay the equivalent of US$200 million to our own farmers,” Dr Masuka said.

Following the adoption of climate-resilient Pfumvudza/Intwasa farming methods and good rains during the past season, the country was able to save $300 million, which it normally used to import grain.

This has seen GMB pay up to $60 billion to corn and wheat growers for deliveries made in the 2021-2022 marketing season.

As of January 6, GMB had received 207,608 tonnes of wheat, an increase from the 156,115 tonnes delivered previously. The grain department also received 987,353 tons of maize for food security.

About Keneth T. Graves

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