‘Pay back Command Agriculture loans’

MANICALAND provincial agricultural extension officer Mrs Phillipa Rwambiwa has challenged farmers under the Command Agriculture Wheat Programme in Ward 4 of Nyanga North to repay all the inputs they received from Government and keep the programme running.

Mrs Rwambiwa, who was guest of honour at a provincial  Command Agriculture wheat field day held at Nyatsanza Irrigation Scheme in Ward 4, said farmers should remember that they had a duty to keep the programme running by repaying what they borrowed from Government.

“You must feed the cow that you milk, lest it dies,” she told the gathering, which included officials from the National Aids Council, Seed Co, Nyaradzo Funeral Services, Ministry of Health and Child Care, Command Agriculture and Nyanga District Administrator Mr Shadreck Chingombe.

The field day was organised to showcase a successful 12ha wheat project being run by the group of 52 farmers in the Hwesa area under Chief Katerere. Members of the scheme received 145kg of Compound D, 95kg of urea and 27kg of wheat seed each from Government which they are expected to pay back after harvesting. The crop is almost ready for harvesting and farmers expect not less than 15 bags or more of the cereal from each of their 0, 23ha pieces of land.

“As you can see, we have a very good crop and we will be able to repay Government and remain with enough to sell and generate our own income. We are also targeting to join the maize programme for the forthcoming season so that we have crops throughout the year.

“Since the scheme’s establishment in 1993, we have been producing maize, beans and wheat, but we have not been able to sell the produce to lucrative markets. “The Grain Marketing Board is in Nyanga, about 100 kilometres away, so the costs of taking the little maize that we have been producing there discouraged us from dealing with GMB.

“This year, we have the best wheat ever, thanks to the Government’s Command Programme that enabled us to expand our hectarages and also apply herbicides to control weeds, which have been our biggest problem over the years.

“We expect better yields and better incomes too,” chairman of the scheme Mr Stephen Garafa said. The farmers draw water from Nyatsanza Dam, which flows by gravity to their fields through canals.

In her earlier remarks, Mrs Rwambiwa had also encouraged more farmers to take advantage of the fact that the Command Agriculture Programme did not require any collateral and register not as groups, but as individuals so that they would fully enjoy the benefits.

“People have started registering for next season, but I would like to advise you to sign for inputs that you can fully utilise them so that you don’t get accrue debts after failing to produce enough to repay the loans.

“You must mobilise all resources at your disposal including animal manure to fertilise your crops so that you produce abundantly and remain with enough to sustain you after repaying what you owe Government,” said Mrs Rwambiwa.

She also challenged farmers to keep cropping calendars to guide them on the choice of crops to grow and the ideal times of the year, while keeping track of developments in the markets. – B-Metro