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Sakunda targets one million hectares

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 The Herald

Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
Sakunda Holdings has pledged to partner Government in sponsoring maize
production to reach a target of one million hectares in the next five

Sakunda is among private companies that played a crucial role in funding
Command Agriculture in the 2016-17 season.

Zimbabwe expects to harvest close to three million tonnes of cereals this

Making a presentation at a workshop to review Command Agriculture
recently, Sakunda Holdings chief executive Mr Kuda Tagwireyi told
stakeholders that investing in agriculture was one of the major ways to
boost the economy.

"We are prepared to extend agricultural support to five years. Sakunda
aims to do one million hectares in five years and improve production per
hectare. Command Agriculture is a successful programme because farmers are
getting significant profits," said Mr Tagwireyi.

"At a price of $390 per tonne, farmers will get a gross profit of $1 500
per hectare. The impact has been felt across the entire economy and
multiple industries have benefited significantly through increased demand
for various products such as chemicals, seed, fertilisers, fuel,
transport, marketing and advertising," he said.

He said key successes of Command Agriculture were evident in import
substitution, a good harvest, farmers' viability, enhanced food security
and increased utilisation of agricultural land.

"In future, there should be farmer involvement and contribution in
agricultural programmes to reduce abuse of inputs," he said.

Mr Tagwireyi described the 2016/17 season as a success because of
Government's big intervention through Command Agriculture.

He urged stakeholders to ensure early distribution of inputs to farmers
for easy of early planning.

"For the summer season, responsible authorities should ensure inputs are
produced by May 1 and manufacturing companies of these commodities should
be assisted in relevant areas so there is adequate supply of inputs" on
time," said Mr Tagwireyi.

"Farmers should be able to collect inputs for the summer season when they
deliver their grain to the Grain Marketing Board. This is convenient and
reduces transport costs," he said. "By September 30 farmers should have
their inputs on the farms. For winter, inputs should be accessible by
February," he said.

He urged Government to assist the local industry increase capacity

"There is need to capacitate the National Railways of Zimbabwe, improve
road networks and storage facilities. We must spend time thinking about
what we will do with the maize we have produced. Stakeholders should
invest in drying and related facilities. Mechanised drying will improve
timely crop rotation," he said.

"Farmers should be issued with a card for tracking inputs distribution,
and maize deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board," he said.

Mr Tagwireyi called for the introduction of insurance to mitigate losses
by farmers.

Sakunda Holdings initially signed an agreement with Government to finance
Command Agriculture's irrigated and dryland maize for three years.

The company also signed a three-year contract to provide inputs under the
Presidential Inputs Support Scheme.

Source: LINK

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