BY AMOS BATISAYI
THE Agriculture Business Centre (ABC) says it has contracted smallholder farmers to plant more than 1000 hectares (ha) of sunflower in Gokwe this season.
ABC is engaged in the development of the sunflower value chain in Gokwe.
Vernon Mushoriwa, ABC general manager told BusinessDigest that the initiative to revive sunflower production had seen more than 1 000 farmers being contracted to produce sunflower in the area.
“Lack of reliable markets has also been one of the main constraints faced by smallholder farmers who are involved in the production of sunflower. Many farmers have been receiving low prices for their produce by selling them to middlemen and community oil pressers.” said Mushoriwa.
Sunflower farming has been side-lined due to lack of reliable markets, and smallholder farmers have been producing the crop at a small scale.
Mushoriwa said linkages between local processors or buyers were limited, leading to the drop in sunflower farming compared to other crops such as cotton, maize and groundnuts.
“As ABC we view the development of the sunflower value chain as a major boost in tackling rural poverty by increasing the productivity and income of smallholder farmers” he said.
ABC has set up a plant to produce sunflower oil which is sold back into the communities at affordable prices. The sunflower cake is used to produce stockfeed.
Gokwe farmers have welcomed the development of the sunflower value chain.
Farmers who sold their produce to the ABC during the 2019 to 2020 farming season expressed satisfaction with the prices that were offered by ABC and they have committed themselves to working with it in the development of the sunflower value chain.
Trust Mawire, one of the contracted sunflower farmers from Mapu in ward 14 said, “Sunflower is widely adaptable and more drought-tolerant than most other grain crops. It can, in fact, tolerate high temperatures and drought conditions more effectively than other crops like maize. I have decided to embrace this initiative that is being brought into our community by the ABC.”
“Maize, cotton and groundnuts have been our primary earners of income although their market prices have continued to shrink over the years.
The coming in of ABC with the promotion of the sunflower value chain is a welcome development to the Gokwe community,” he said.