THE World Food Programme in Zimbabwe recently conducted a training programme for lead farmers in Mudzi district who are expected to train others in the production of small grains and help reduce perennial hunger problems in the area.
The 50 farmers welcomed the programme that would see them growing rapoko, millet and sorghum that flourish in the dry area which falls under region 4 and 5.
The councillor for Ward 9 (Mukota C) in Mudzi, Alois Kambambaira, told NewsDay that the programme would inspire villagers to start growing small grains.
“People have shunned growing small grains because they had no access to seed and people did not have knowledge on modernised ways of growing small grains,” he said.
He said the small grains attracted birds that destroyed fields because there were only a few people growing small grains, but with an increased number of farmers, the damage would be less.
He added villagers were forced to buy grain in surrounding farms at $5 bucket, which they resold at $7 a bucket.
“This programme will help people. I can now sleep well, assured that hunger will be averted,” he said.
The assistant district administrator for Mudzi, Priscilla Muguto, said hunger had become a widespread problem in the area and the timely intervention by WFP would help the local communities become food secure.
“We welcome this programme because it will avert hunger which had become a widespread problem in this area,” she said.
“Generally, this is a dry region. In the past we understand people used to grow small grains but later changed to maize because small grains are labour intensive.”
She said when local villagers grew maize, it would only last them three months and by July they would be looking to WFP for assistance.
WFP spokesperson Tomson Phiri said once the farmers started growing the small grains, they would have a ready market for the surplus they would want to sell.
“WFP has demand within its programmes for food. Prior to starting the programme in Zimbabwe, we existed as a buyer. We had a buying office in Zimbabwe and we were buying food for the rest of Africa,” he said.
“If farmers are assured that there is a ready market and a quality buyer, the motivation to produce is there and we hope we can stimulate the future production of small grains in Zimbabwe.”