Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT wants to make it mandatory for communal farmers to venture into sunflower farming as it seeks to substitute US$200 million worth of crude sunflower oil imports.
It has already started providing communal farmers with inputs to enable them to get involved in sunflower farming.
This will ensure the country stops importing between 60 000 and 65 000 tonnes of crude sunflower oil from South Africa annually.
Government has included sunflower seeds, among inputs being given to farmers this farming season.
The sunflower seeds can be accessed at the Grain Marketing Board, which has been challenged to distribute the inputs as soon as possible.
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said Government is targeting to place 120 hectares of land under sunflower in rural communities.
Dr Masuka said Government expects to distribute at least 600 metric tonnes of sunflower seed to farmers and going forward it will be part of the Pfumvudza/Intwasa farming inputs.
“Cotton and sunflower must be the principal cash crops for communal areas and old resettlement areas, which is why we are putting quite a lot of sunflower seeds.
We have received 417 metric tonnes and I’m expecting another 150 to 200 metric tonnes all together to add to the 120 hectares of sunflower if every household takes their pack,” said Dr Masuka.
“That must be distributed as expeditiously as humanly possible so that each household does sunflower.
In the Pfumvudza/Intwasa pack, sunflower is a mandatory crop for everyone because we cannot continue to import cooking oil for use in homes.”
He said Government cannot continue to indirectly support South African farmers by importing their produce to the tune of US$200 million.
“All oils that we use in the homes are largely imported from South Africa.
So, we spend US$200 million paying for the imports and in a way indirectly supporting South African farmers to be able to produce more in order to export to Zimbabwe.
We have said starting this year, we need to build import substitutions and be able to pay the equivalent of US$200 million to our own farmers,” said Dr Masuka.
Following the adoption of Pfumvudza/Intwasa climate proof farming methods and good rains in the past season, the country was able to save US$300 million, which it previously used to import grain.
This saw GMB paying up to $60 billion to maize and wheat farmers for deliveries made during the 2021-2022 marketing season.
As at January 6, GMB had received 207 608 tonnes of wheat, an increase from 156 115 tonnes previously delivered.
The grain utility has also received 987 353 tonnes of maize for food security.
Article Source: The Chronicle