Friday, March 11, 2011
Thursday, 10 March 2011 20:28
By Elita Chikwati
GLENDALE farmer Godwin Chitsinde is the 2011 Pioneer Hi-Bred Zimbabwe's national seed maize grower of the year. He won US$10 000 for being the top seed producer. Chitsinde, who is also an End Time Message pastor, planted 62 hectares of seed maize and 84 hectares of commercial maize.
He is expecting a yield of 13 tonnes per hectare from the crop. Speaking at a field day held at his Panashe Farm in Glendale, Chitsinde said it was through hard work that he won the award.
"I also believe in working with experts and always look to God for guidance and wisdom,'' he said.
The farmer said he always planted on time and pays attention to crop management.
This involves correct fertiliser application and effective weed control.
Delaying in planting, Chitsinde said, had a negative effect on yields.
According to experts, a farmer loses 50kg per hectare of maize for every day delayed in planting.
Instead of weeding manually, Chitsinde relies on herbicides which he said had proved more efficient and cost-effective than human labour.
"Workers may not be thorough when it comes to weeding so herbicides are more effective,' he said.
Pioneer Hi-Bred Zimbabwe, field operations manager Mr Zivanai Sigwadhi said weeds, especially in seed maize transmit pests and diseases to the crop. He said weeds should be removed as they compete with crops for nutrients.
Sigwadhi encouraged farmers growing seed maize to aim for a high plant population for high output.
"It is also important for farmers to apply correct amount of fertilisers. Farmers should also from time-to-time apply lime to their soils to correct the soil pH (acidity or alkalinity)."
Sigwadhi encouraged farmers to take their soils for testing to get correct fertiliser recommendations.
Fertiliser companies such as ZFC and Windmill carry out free soil tests.
"When applying top dressing, we encourage farmers to split their applications and the first application should be done 30 days after planting," he said.
Speaking at the same function, Mashonaland Central Governor, Martin Dinha said gone are the days when land owners show off with the resource, but it was now time to prove their worth.
"I am proud of this province and the hard working farmers. Some people used to think that white men where the only ones capable of farming but here is a true example of an indigenous farmer who is doing very well," he said.
Governor Dinha, however, denounced those farmers who have farms, but are not using the land.
"Those not fully utilising the land should just surrender part of their land to other people willing to farm,'' he said.
Pioneer general manager Mr Daniel Myers said his company had a 22 percent market share of maize seed and was aiming to reach 30 percent by 2015.
"We are expecting 10 000 tonnes of maize seed this coming season. We want to continue assisting seed maize growers so that the country retains its status as the breadbasket of Africa,' he said.
Secretary for Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Mr Ngoni Masoka applauded Chitsinde for his hard work and said seed production was very important in ensuring national food security.
"We will allow seed companies to export only if they meet local demand.
"If seed houses continue to produce more than 50 000 tonnes of seed there is no doubt that they will get an export permit," Mr Masoka said.