Farming/Agriculture

 Chipinge farmers chill in chili cultivation

Ivayinerudo Magarazano

CHIPINGE- ln the heart of Chipinge District, Manicaland Province, a momentous occasion unfolded on Tuesday, during the official opening of the Vimbanayi Irrigation scheme Agro-Processing hub.

The Vimbanayi Irrigation scheme Agro-Processing hub, supported by the USAID Resilience ANCHORS project in Ward 27, marked a significant milestone for the local farming community.

The project has blossomed into a thriving endeavor, with the help of USAID through the Resilience ANCHORS project, where the number of farmers cultivating chili pepper has increased from 90 last year to 145 this year.

USAID/Zimbabwe Mission Director Janean Davis revealed that the USAID will remain committed in supporting private-sector partnership that contribute to sustainable development and economic growth.

“USAID remains committed in supporting private -sector partnerships that enhances Agricultural productivity which is essential in creating economic opportunities and improve livelihoods” said Davis.

The farmers’ investment in chili pepper farming has proven to be a wise decision, with a remarkable return of $3 for every $1 invested.

However, the farmers are facing a persistent challenge in the form of birds, which pose a significant threat to their chili pepper crop.

The birds feed on the chili pepper, both before and after it has ripened, resulting in significant losses.

For the time being, farmers have to remain by their crops and chase away the birds to mitigate the damage.

The newly launched Agro-Processing hub serves as a vital facility for the farmers, providing a space for storing and processing their chili pepper harvest. The hub plays a crucial role in enhancing the quality of their produce and enabling them to meet the demands of the chili pepper company.

Last year, the farmers proudly announced a staggering 17.2 tonnes of chili pepper harvested, which produced sales of more than US$10 000, with the chili pepper company consolidating the produce to reach the minimum required for shipment, which is 22 tonnes.

To date, the farmers have harvested 11 tonnes of chili peppers and they are likely to surpass the 17 tonnes harvested last year.

The chili pepper company official, …Chigwa, praised the high quality of the produce and encouraged the farmers to continue their excellent work.

“Since this is your first time engaging in Chili production we had low expectations but you proved us wrong as your Chili is of best quality, keep maintaining the good work and remember the importance of crop diversification to ensure a balanced farming, grow tomatoes, beans and vegetables as well,” said Chigwa

For the farmers, the shift to chili pepper farming have brought about a welcome transformation.

 They rejoiced in the instant US$ cash the chili pepper crop generates, the relatively lower labor demands, and the availability of a stable market, which is an improvement compared to their previous crops of tomatoes and beans.

If all goes well, their lives will be upgraded, and they will no longer struggle to pay school fees.

“We used to sell our tomatoes $25-$50 per month, but with 2 lines of Chili pepper last year we got $107 and this time we are expecting $500 because we increased our lines to 7.

“The crop requires less labor, seeds and fertilizers we get them for free, we would like to thank the Resilience ANCHORS who linked us with the Chili Pepper Company” said Silinkule Zhou one of the farmers.

Chilli farmer, Silinkule Zhou in her field.

As they looked into the future, the farmers are aiming to increase their land under cultivation hoping to produce even more chili pepper and further improve their livelihoods.

The Vimbanayi irrigation scheme has become a beacon of resilience and progress in the region.

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