FARMERS have been challenged to pay more attention to grain drying and storage to minimise post -harvest losses as the country prepares for a bumper crop this year.
Most farmers are expecting a bumper harvest following above average rains and the successful roll-out of the Pfumvudza/Intwasa agricultural scheme.
The rains are expected to continue beyond the normal period and there are fears that crops like maize, soya-bean and small grains might be affected by moisture content – a critical element for successful grain storage.
“Most farmers realise yield losses after harvesting because of poor handling and storage,” said former Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) official and Mhangura farmer, Berean Mukwende.
“If rains continue, it could affect the moisture level and force farmers to suspend harvesting. This can, in turn, reduce yields.”
Apart from moisture content, the yield is also lost to termites, rodents and other grain attacking pests.
Seed Co commercial agronomist, Philip Matombo, said farmers should now invest more in crop drying machines to secure their harvest.
“Although the traditional way of storing grains is recommended, changes in weather patterns now pose a challenge to most farmers who have seen the quality of the grain deteriorating due to moisture,” he said.
“Drying facilities also speed up the process and reduce time for dry down by up to 50 percent.”
Seed Co Limited has invested about US$10 million in drying facilities to expedite delivery of seed to the market and reduce losses.
Through other government’s programmes like the CBZ Agro Yield Command Agriculture Scheme, farmers are also targeting higher yields, which also creates a greater demand for storage.
Temporary storage gives solutions to farmers who will have to wait for their grains to reach a certain moisture content which is required to deliver crops to Grain Marketing Board (GMB)
Although in 2018, the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) rolled out a massive exercise to install dryers at its depots to enable drying and storing of grains delivered to it with higher moisture content, the facilities were still inadequate.