Story by Tapiwa Machemedze
SMALL-scale commercial plantations are expected to empower local farmers after benefiting from a programme initiated by Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE) to advance fruit tree production.
Under the small-scale commercial plantation model being advanced by lecturers from Bindura University and Science Education (BUSE), farmers are being equipped with skills to plant fruit trees which will boost their incomes by complementing the usual production of crops.
The programme also seeks to mitigate climate change and enable farmers to generate revenue in years of low rainfall.
“We are targeting every farmer, they can farm even 100 to 50 trees of four fruit types, that is avocado, mango, citrus and macadamia. Farming those four will spread risk, some will mature and some won’t. And they also ripen at different times of the year so from mango you harvest, avocado, to citrus and macadamia. We have received positive feedback from farmers throughout the country and having done so will generate volumes that are required to market, locally and externally,” said Dr Robert Maponga, an environmental management expert.
Over the past year, 200 farmers have benefitted from a training programme on small-scale commercial plantations and the establishment of market networks.
“Our programme BUSE is to give models of different plots, so we used the plots as an extension and the programme helps farmers to know the beauty of farming fruits, besides most of our farmers are elderly so harvesting fruit can give them a pension. If you get about 200 fruits and they earn you money that is good for a pension,” said Dr Renias Chivheya, an Agriculture Sciences lecturer.
The small-holder plantation model also seeks to complement the Presidential Rural Development Programme which involves the sinking of boreholes and the establishment of orchards in every ward to increase food security and create employment.