At least 270 farmers in Matobo and Bulilima districts, Matabeleland South province have benefited from production of drought-tolerant crops like small grains, courtesy of technical assistance provided by non-governmental organisation, Sisonke Working Together.
Matabeleland South is largely arid and has experinced recurrent droughts since the 1980s and agricultural experts have encouraged farmers in the area to grow small grains.
Sisonke Working Together Trust has been capacitating farmers to grow drought-resistant crops.
Its director Themba Phiri yesterday told Southern Eye that they started farmer field schools in Matebeleland South and North provinces to train farmers to grow small grains.
“The main thrust has been the production of small grains in the form of sorghum, pearl millet and rapoko. The programme has grown in leaps and bounds and has seen 70 farmers in Matobo and 200 farmers in Bulilima producing small grains on a large scale,” Phiri said.
“The programme is in line with Sustainable Development Goal 24, which deals with climate action whereby farmers are taught adaptation and mitigation measures with more focus on small grains. As a trust, we are working with Matopo Research Institution to promote the adoption of small grains on a large scale.”
Most of the farmers who received small grain inputs from Matopo Research and Sisonke, are poised to get good yields during the 2022/23 season.
“These farmers want to create seed banks so that they can distribute seed to hard-to-reach areas where most of the vulnerable communities and farmers live.
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“So far most of the varieties of sorghum are currently doing well and are getting towards maturity. The major varieties are SV4 for sorghum and PMV 5 for pearl millet," Phiri added.
Farmers, Getrude Sibanda from Lubhangwe in Matobo and Mfazo Sibanda from Nyele ward 3 in Plumtree, urged other farmers in the region to grow small grains and to join farmer field schools to enhance their agricultural skills.
"The farmer field schools have empowered us so much that I am bound to have a good harvest of small grains this year. My yields are very good and impressive," Getrude said.
Mfazo added: “Our region is prone to drought and maize crops always fail when there is not enough rain. It is wise for farmers to adopt small grain crops and they must join the farmer field schools to get more knowledge and inputs so that they become good small grain producers.”