A farmer organization on Tuesday urged the Zimbabwean government to develop a small grains policy to promote production of such crops and boost food security in the country.
Presenting oral evidence before a parliamentary committee, Zimbabwe Farmers Union chief executive Paul Zakariya said lack of policy was hampering production of small grains as farmers preferred the staple maize which had a ready market.
“Production of small grains in the country is very low. This is because there is no policy to promote production of small grains among small holder farmers in semi-arid areas where they have a comparative advantage over maize,” Zakariya said.
He said the lack of policy was also hampering research in seed varieties and processing technology for small grains.
A deliberate policy by government to peg the price of small grains higher than that of maize would also help to boost production of the drought-tolerant small grains, Zakariya said.
The price of both maize and small grains is currently pegged at 390 U.S. dollars per tonne, although small grain production and processing is more labor intensive.
“It will be a policy incentive if government puts a small margin on top of the 390 dollars for maize so as to promote growing of small grains in the country,” he said.
According to government, small grain production is expected at 600,000 tonnes in 2017 while production of maize is projected at 2.1 million tonnes.
The maize output is well above national requirements of 1.8 million tonnes per year.
Apart from the good rains received this season, government is also attributing the bumper maize harvest to a government-run command maize production scheme. Enditem