THE Government is implementing a host of measures to assist horticulture farmers contain pests that can cause economic losses if not controlled effectively and derail the country’s charge towards becoming an upper-middle-income society as envisage in Vision 2030 in the process.
Department of Migratory Pests and Biosecurity Control (MPBC) acting director Mr Shingirayi Nyamutukwa yesterday told The Herald that effective pest control methods were essential to horticultural farmers countrywide.
“We are actively assisting horticultural farmers in different ways that include training and advisory services on pest identification, scouting and management.
“The department establishes early warning systems through setting up of a network of traps to assist farmers in the event of outbreak occurring. Traps are established for pests such as African armyworm (spodoptera exempta), fall armyworm (spodoptera frugiperda) and tomato leaf miner (tuta abusoluta),” observed Mr Nyamutukwa.
He added that they were visiting horticulture farmers delivering knowledge about pest control.
“The MPBC provides advisory services through outreach programmes carried out by visiting farmers in their gardens and farmer field schools sharing knowledge on integrated pest management options for farmers to choose from ranging from biological, cultural and chemical control as a way of managing pests,” he said.
Mr Nyamutukwa indicated that the department was regularly airing radio/television programmes, which were being produced to give advice to farmers on pest management.
Meanwhile, horticulture has been identified as one of the drivers of Zimbabwe’s economy, as water supplies and inputs become available as part of implementing the National Development Strategy 1 and making the Vision 2030 agenda a reality.
President Mnangagwa last year launched the rural horticulture scheme to transform agriculture through the increased access to irrigation and potable water for communities in rural areas. This largely involves the drilling of boreholes, one per village, over five years, with some of the water allocated for irrigating the horticulture plots.
Zimbabwe is aiming to become an upper-middle-income economy by 2030 with the agriculture sector expected to contribute to that goal by becoming an US$8, 2 billion economy by 2023.
More importantly, upgrading the rural families will spread wealth across millions of families as farmers are able to earn a lot from their land.
In practical terms, the horticulture scheme sees villagers growing vegetables and planting orchards for household consumption to improve and vary their diets and sell the surplus to improve incomes.
Government’s various incentives to the horticulture sector are paying off with the sector growing from 110 million kilogrammes in 2020 to 129 million kilogrammes in 2021 marking a 17 percent export growth in volumes, giving impetus to the country’s march towards attaining its dream of becoming an upper-middle-class income society by 2030.