ZIMBABWE- The Zimbabwean sunflower production is projected to reach 90 479 tonnes from 11 117 tonnes reaped last season, an 8-fold jump owing to increased production by the small-scale farmers.

The projected surge follows the Crop, Livestock, and Fisheries Assessment Report (CLAFA2) for 2022/23, which revealed that the expected harvest would end the surging imports of crude sunflower oil hence shielding the country from import bills.

According to The Herald, the crop is not labor intensive, making it ideal for smaller family farms, with most families having been involved in growing sunflowers as a cash crop.

The report attributes the surging production to the recent aggressive move by the Zimbabwean government to increase the production of the crop and consequently halt US$200 million worth of crude sunflower oil imports.

This season, private sector contractors under the aegis of the Food Crop Contractors Association (FCCA) and United Refineries contracted 86 677ha of the crop in collaboration with National Enhanced Agriculture Productivity Scheme (NEAPS) funded by AFC.

In addition,  the government committed to providing communal farmers with inputs to enable them to get involved in sunflower farming as a move to ensure the country ceases imports of between 60 000 and 65 000 metric tonnes of crude sunflower oil from South Africa annually.

Further, the contract farming program rolled out in Midlands and Manicaland, the major producing provinces ensured easy market access for farmers.

According to the report, Midlands province, which is the highest producer would yield 18 076 tonnes compared to 2 343 tonnes last season followed by Manicaland province with 16 926 tonnes compared to 1 504 tonnes produced last season.

Mashonaland West Province, which enjoys favorable weather patterns and good soils yielded 16 274 tonnes compared to 1 930 tonnes last year, while Mashonaland East produced 14 220 tonnes compared to 2 435 in the previous year.

Meanwhile, the report indicated that soybean production has also increased by 13 percent from 82 028 tonnes last season to 93 086 tonnes this season.

The report also showed that groundnut production increased by 117 percent from 98 765 tonnes last season to 214 145 tonnes this season.

“I encourage most farmers to grow traditional grains as they perform better than maize and grow even under drought. Sunflower offers good prices, said, Mrs Depinah Nkomo, the Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust president as she commended the good yields.

She postulated that the country is sure of enough oil if the crops are prioritized adding that this year the crop was in good condition and she is optimistic that farmers are likely to increase the hectares under these oil seeds in the next season.

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