MASVINGO - Farmers in Masvingo are jostling to have their names registered under the government's ambitious command agriculture scheme with renewed optimism that food security will improve in the province.
Masvingo province, like most parts of the country, is suffering from the effects of the El Nino-induced drought which has left over 700 000 people in need of food aid.
At least 2 000 farmers are expected to benefit from the new scheme which is aimed at ensuring food self-sufficiency countrywide.
The new scheme will target farmers near water bodies who can put a minimum of 200 hectares under maize production per individual.
Agricultural Extension Services (Agritex) provincial officer, Paul Poshai said there was overwhelming response from farmers and Masvingo province has the potential to ensure its own food security.
"I am inundated with calls from farmers who are willing to be part of this initiative meant to address food shortage in the country. There is an overwhelming response to the command agriculture programme in the province. I have already received over 200 calls from local farmers both A2 and A1," said Poshai.
Poshai said plans are afoot to lobby government for the inclusion of A1 farmers.
"The command agriculture scheme is currently targeting only A2 farmers with a minimum of 10 hectares of land. We have, however, realised that there are many A1 farmers with 5 hectares also willing to be in the programme and plans are currently underway to have them included in the programme," he said.
Farmers in the programme will be expected to produce at least 1000 tonnes of maize per season.
The participating farmers will also get loan advances in form of irrigation equipment, inputs and chemicals, electricity and water charges when they commit five tonnes per hectare towards repayment of advanced loans.
To create food-security, government has also launched the National Livestock Strategy (NLS) which intends to renew beef exports to the Middle East, the European Unions (EU) and other international markets.news