Delta cuts funding for contract farming
> Masimba Gomo
Bulawayo – Zimbabwean beverage maker, Delta Corporation will provide communal and commercial farmers with US$450 000 to grow 300 hectares of red sorghum under contract in the 2015/16 cropping season, representing a 70 percent decline compared to the 2014/15 farming season, an official has said.
Corporate affairs manager Tsungai Matiure said the decline was spurred by a forecasted bad rainy season and overlapping stocks.
“We are in the process of contracting for red sorghum for the 2015/16 season and are targeting a total of 3 300 hectares. This is about 30% of the contracted hectarage from last year.
“Our summer programme involves contracting for red sorghum and market contracts for white sorghum,” she said.
“Our investment will be significantly reduced compared to last year because of the reduction in contracted hectarage. We anticipate to finance the sorghum scheme to the value of US$450 000. The main benefit from the scheme relates to the company providing an assured market to sorghum farmers. The total value of the sorghum purchased during the 2014/15 season is around US$2.5 million.”
In winter, she said, they contract for barley production.
“We however did not contract this past season as current stocks will be able to see us through to the next harvesting season as a result of the drop in beer volumes.
“Our yield projection for this year is likely to be the same as the actual yields from prior year given the persistence of the El Nino phenomenon into this summer cropping season. Communal yields averaged 0.73t/ha and the commercial yield averaged 2.15t/ha,” Matiure said.
Areas to benefit from the scheme are Buhera, Gokwe, Mutoko, Mwenezi and Chiredzi districts under the communal sector.
For the commercial sector Mazowe Valley, Chinhoyi, Raffingora, Selous and Kwekwe districts will be involved.
Sorghum is a raw material in the production of opaque beer (Chibuku and Chibuku Super). It is also used in the Maheu (a traditional nutritional drink) business. White sorghum goes into the production of the Eagle Lager beer brand.
Maize goes into production of lager beer, opaque beer and also into the Maheu business.
Barley is converted to barley malt and used in lager beer manufacture.
Commenting on the issue an official from the Zimbabwe Farmers Union said if properly implemented by both parties contract farming can improve livelihoods especially in the communal sector.
“Farmers have a continuous income flow from sorghum as a cash crop and are able to cover their school fees obligations and meet their basic need of food as well as upgrading their standards of living,” the official said.
“Some have even bought assets though the contract scheme. On the other hand commercial farmers on the contract scheme have employees who also benefit from this.”
The official said under the barley contracting scheme farmers have been able to develop and upgrade their irrigation infrastructure and have also managed to acquire machinery and equipment that they use for other agro-ventures on their farms.