Listed seed producer, Seed Co is recording a huge spike in vegetable sales on a yearly basis amid indications that there is an increase in the horticulture sector exports which has lured more farmers to the horticultural sector.
Seed Co Vegetables general manager Felistus Gurajena recently told Business Times that the seed producer is capitalising on the push for exports by firms to generate more foreign currency.
“In terms of seed sales we have really seen exciting growth both in our hybrid and in the open pollinated varieties of vegetable seeds. We have had a huge jump annually in terms of horticulture seed sales. Every year we are growing at about 45% – 50% in terms of sales,” Gurajena said.
She added that an increase in knowledge by farmers on how to grow horticultural products has also pushed volumes.
“I think what was lacking in Zimbabwe for a long time was the knowledge of how to go about with horticulture production. When you are growing for example, tomatoes there is a lot of spraying products that go in to it and the knowledge of how and when to spray was not available to farmers,” Gurajena said, adding that the sensitisation programmes across the country has seen more farmers embracing horticulture farming and also realising that they can do horticulture farming on a much smaller piece of land unlike field crops.
“They also recognise that they can actually make money from a very small piece of land, and not only that but within three months they are harvesting or even in a lesser period than that. For example when you grow sugar beans in less than 60 days you are already harvesting and our cabbage in only 65 days,” she said.
Gurajena said there was interest from farmers who are into field crops and those who had never been into farming after realising that they can do horticulture as a side business or even a retirement package or in your backyard for sustenance.
Farmers present at a recent field day said the lack of knowledge on horticulture seeds was a hindrance to their involvement, welcoming the Seed Co Vegetables field day as an enlightening and worthwhile experience.
A Manicaland farmer Chimbiro Tongai said most farmers now have expertise in growing vegetables due to Seed Co programmes that empower the farmers.
“As horticulture farmers we sometimes have a problem with farming vegetables due to a lack of knowledge on which seeds to use and how to best maximise our produce from them. So we welcome the fact that Seed Co Vegetables provides us with access to a locally based agronomist who is able to provide us with assistance throughout the farming process,” he said.
A Kenyan farmer also on the recently ended field day at Stapleford, Richard Karind, expressed high hopes for the Zimbabwean horticulture sector on the global market.
He said the Zimbabwean horticulture market was “very vibrant”.
“It has the potential to challenge other markets if they continue to do what they are doing. We have seen products that can really go a long way on the international market,” Karind said.
“We have seen products that could do well across the African market, particularly the tomatoes which are pretty good in terms of quality and can be really good for processing. The bean varieties look very attractive and can do well in the East African Market and the sugar peas, snow peas and shelling peas varieties look good and can sell even in the European and other markets. The cabbage varieties are also good in terms of height, quality and transportability and keeping capacity.”