BY Everson Mushava

GOVERNMENT has been urged to support farmers’ migration from conventional farming methods to smart agriculture in order to achieve higher yields and export quality crop.

This came out at a Zimbabwe National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) congress held in Harare at the weekend under the theme Utilise Land, Adopt Technology and Produce for Export.

The call comes at time the private sector has taken the initiative to modernise agriculture, with government lagging behind in terms of policy development and research.

Speakers at the conference singled out Swiss-headquartered agro-chemical conglomerate, Syngenta, which has taken the initiative to invest heavily in research on better seed varieties and chemicals which can withstand droughts and pests, particularly the fall armyworm which has wreaked havoc on farms across the entire Sadc region and has been very difficult to contain.

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ZNFU president Monica Chinamasa said farmers were keen to embrace smart agriculture, but lamented lack of government support.

She said for smart agriculture to be fully implemented, government should give support to the country’s farming communities.

“We have to move with technology, but in the process, we need to be supported; that is our appeal to government. Government, with its limited resources, needs to support farmers in order to produce higher yields and high quality crops suitable for export,” Chinamasa said.

“We appreciate efforts being undertaken by the private sector, particularly Syngenta which has been so helpful in terms of fostering smart agriculture, but they will also need government support if this migration to smart farming is to be a success.”

Syngenta sales and support manager Norman Chihuno said the company would continue to research and bring out new technologies to help the country’s quest for self-sustainance in food provision.

“We have several varieties of hybrid seeds. The maize hybrid seed has to be treated with seed dressers. I hope you have heard of our new product, Fortenza Duo, which is a seed dresser which prevents the crop from being affected by fall armyworm,” Chihuno said.

“We will continue researching on these technological advancements and giving solutions to emerging challenges and threats to the farmers.”

Agriculture deputy minister Peter Haritatos, who officiated at the event, said government was willing to assist farmers through research in technology.

“Companies like Syngenta are investing quite a lot of money, substantial amounts of money in research and development,” Haritatos said.

“They make our role as government easier because we look at different value chains and say how can we invest more in research and these seed houses like Syngenta are doing it alongside us but they are financing it.”