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Start planting now, soya beans farmers told

Start planting now, soya beans farmers told

Prof Mpepereki

Prof Mpepereki

Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
Manicaland farmers under Government’s Command Soya Bean Scheme have been urged to plant their crop early to avoid complications associated with the cold weather that could affect yields. In an interview, technical advisor for the Command Agriculture programme responsible for soya beans, Professor Sheunesu Mpepereki said farmers should start planting now.

“In Manicaland, it is important for farmers to plant early because the cold season comes earlier than in most areas. Soya bean does not grow well in cold weather and this results in low yields. This is actually the best time to plant, so those with seed should start planting,” he said.

Prof Mpepereki said farmers who did not have fertilisers could still produce a good crop if they planted in thick textured soils.

“Soyabean will also thrive in soil that had maize that was applied fertiliser in the last season, the crop might utilise fertiliser that was left in the soil,” he said.

Prof Mpepereki said Manicaland had some of the best soils for soya bean production and many farmers were taking up the soyabean production scheme. He said areas like Middle Sabi, Makoni, Mutasa, Nyanga and Chisumbanje produced good quality soya bean crop. Prof Mpepereki expressed hope that production would go up this year to more than the 50 000 tonnes produced in the last season.

“We had set target of 120 000 tonnes in the last season, but unfortunately there were disturbances in the implementation of the programme and some farmers did not manage to get inputs. But we look forward to a better output this year in excess of the 50 000 tonnes we got last year,” he said.

Government extended soya beans into the Command Agriculture programme to increase output and eventually stop the importation of the crop by May next year. The programme is targeting 60 000 hectares at an average of two tonnes per hectare.

Soya bean is a critical raw material in the production of edible oil, but due to low production locally, crude soya bean imports have been growing as processors tried to meet about 300 000 tonnes of the seed required by the domestic market annually.

Last year, crude soyabean imports amounted to about $120 million and this year they have already exceeded $72 million. Zimbabwean farmers are producing an average of 30 000 tonnes of soya beans per year.

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