The Minister of State in Vice President Kembo Mohadi’s Office, Davis Marapira is farming a special grass which is used to make cattle feed as part of his own efforts to develop the sector in Masvingo province.
Marapira is implementing the project on part of his 500-hectare farm which is located some few kilometres west of Masvingo city off Bulawayo highway.
The grass, which is known by its Portuguese name Brazseed Panicum Mombaza, is rich in nutrients that enable cattle to survive the worst of the lean seasons.
Marapira, who is one of the best performing farmers in the whole province if not the whole country in terms of yields per hectare and effective land use, imports the seed of the grass variety from Brazil.
In an interview with TellZim News, Marapira said the grass project was a response to the urgent need to grow alternative stock feed in face of increasingly unreliable rainfall patterns.
“If you are a serious cattle farmer, you do not want to keep doing things the old ways because everything is changing. You want to explore new ways of keeping your livestock alive and healthy even in the worst of droughts. This is why we at this farm have decided to start growing this grass variety.
“It’s not any easy project because to import the seed is expensive, the fertilisers are expensive and there is also need for manpower to remove unwanted weeds and to do all the other nurturing work. We have begun with 30ha which can produce enough yields to feed 300 cattle for one year,” said Marapira.
One hectare of adequately-nurtured Brazseed Panicum Mombaza can produce enough hay to feed 10 cattle for twelve months at a yield of 100kg/ha.
The grass needs to be fed some compounds of phosphate, potassium, iron, zinc, nitrogen and urea fertilisers for it to reach its fullest potential.
“Part of the harvest will go to the local market and the rest will be exported to such countries as Israel where demand is high. We need to earn as much foreign currency as we can so that the project can grow and remain sustainable,” said Marapira.
The farm also produces several tonnes of maize, sugar bean seed and wheat, and it also hosts several hundreds of cattle, sheep and goats.
“By the standards we are building, this farm is becoming smaller and smaller. Our activities are growing because we are serious farmers who want to feed the country. There is no need for people to keep land they cannot utilise,” said Marapira.
He said he was inspired by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s successful farming business at his Sherwood Farm in Kwekwe.