Beatific Gumbwanda in Chiredzi
10 Feb 2017 - CHIREDZI – The Zimbabwe Sugarcane Development Association (ZSDA) recently held its Annual General Meeting at Polo Cross in Hippo Valley at which the chairman's report unveiled a theme on 'specialising in intensive diversified farming' so as to improve yields by fostering cordial working relations with millers and financial institutions.
The meeting was graced by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture Responsible for Irrigation, Davis Marapira.
ZSDA has empowered farmers by training and giving them new skills in such business ventures as fisheries, cattle fattening, beekeeping, boer goat keeping.
The organisation is also diversifying into cattle rearing and pen fattening but has been looking at how it can engage Tongaat Hullet so that more molasses is made available to local farmers before exports are made.
ZSDA chairperson Edmore Veterai said Tongaat Hullet should consider local molasses requirements first before shipping everything to other countries.
"Tongaat has exported more than 600 trucks of molasses to South Africa but in Zimbabwe molasses that went to Murehwa and Chitomborwizi and other places in 2016 are only 15 trucks. Our cattle are losing 35 kilograms every year between July and December, and they gain 30 kilograms between January and June," Veterai said.
Farmers were also encouraged to utilise the opportunity to learn that has been made available by the working relationship between ZSDA and Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) which is opening a campus in Chiredzi this February.
About 42 ZSDA farmers applied for the certificate in Sugarcane Agriculture.
"Our partnership with GZU has made the ZSDA to be the brand farmers. We are not just farmers but farmers of the revolution," said Veterai.
In December 2016, ZSDA successfully held a successful tree planting day during which every farmer was urged to plant a minimum of 100 trees this rainy season.
Bananas gown in drains will also be produced on a commercial scale.
"CABS indicated that if we organise our farmers very well, they will give us loans to begin the banana project. These bananas will be grown in drains so there will be no need to irrigate them," Veterai said.
ZSDA is on its way to construct its Headquarters in Chiredzi and they are still seeking funds. They are also to purchase a bus that will be transporting farmers and their families to field days, national events and meetings to mention a few.local