Local maize productivity remains low

HARARE - Maize seed producer SeedCo says local farmers have been failing to keep up with the productivity capacity of its seed technology with yield statistics for 2017 and forecasts for 2018 showing productivity below international benchmarks.

SeedCo commercial agronomist Philip Matombo told The Financial Gazette last week that local maize farmers have been failing to fully utilise the productivity capacity of the pan-African company’s seed technology.

“Local farmers, on the average, have not been able to achieve productivity that is up to the levels at which our seed allows. We have seen a few farmers that are achieving high productivity but we have not seen many farmers achieving yields of more than eight tonnes per hectare for their maize crop.

“Our seed has the capacity for very high productivity, our seed technology is among the best in the world; we recently introduced  a maize seed variety which has a capacity of yielding up to 16 tonnes per hectare,” Matombo said.

According to Agritex, the Command Agriculture programme is this year expecting an average maize yield of between three and four tonnes per hectare after a yield of two tonnes per hectare achieved in the previous season.

This falls below global standards, average global maize yield for major maize producing regions between 2013 to 2016 was 8,9 tonnes per hectare. Average farm yield in Brazil ranged between six  tonnes per hectare and 11,8 tonnes per hectare while all of the farms in USA had average maize yields above 10,7 tonnes per hectare.

Mubaso Benard, an Agritex area extension officer for Ward 15, told The Financial Gazette that the biggest hindrance to local farmers’ productivity is lack of resources, he added that farmers do not have much of a problem with regards technique because of the support that they get from Agritex extension officers.

“Our farmers fail to achieve high productivity because they are not resourced enough, they don’t have tractors, they don’t have irrigation schemes. They have the knowledge to execute good farming practices because we provide them with such; the problem is the lack of resources to support their knowledge,” he said.

Enock Moyo, of Kildonan Farm in Mutorashanga, said access to mechanisation and issues around the receipt of inputs are the biggest hindrances to productivity for local farmers. He said more training would also help farmers achieve higher productivity.

“As farmers, our biggest challenge has been access to mechanisation and procurement of inputs, there is a need for the authorities to come up with systems that will ensure timely distribution of farming inputs.

“The other problem is that most of us are not trained, I think it would help if we had refresher courses to reinforce our knowledge as farmers,” Moyo said while addressing those in attendance at a field day held at his farm last week.

— The Financial Gazette

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