Look and learn inspires farmers

“After this look and learn horticultural visit, coupled with the proper technical support when I go back home, as we have exactly the same resources that are being used for production of seedlings, I feel that I can establish my own local small scale commercial community based nursery businesses under shade cloth and production of high value crops in the greenhouse. With what I have learnt and observed during this visit, I’m ready to go”          Mr Mafiko ward 18

Practical Action organized a horticultural look and learn visit for Mutasa farmers and Agritex Extension Workers to Pedstock Investments and PrimeSeedco. The objective of the visit was to create demand for technologies, train farmers on modern horticulture production of high value cropssuch as drip irrigation, greenhouse production, so that they couldl learn and replicate these best practices and technologies in their communities.  A total of 56 people (32 male and 24 female) participated in the 26 farmers and 28 extensionists.

During the tour, the farmers were taken through the processes of integrated pest and disease management process in greenhouses, greenhouse production and the use of hybrid seed as a way of increasing productivity and quality produce.

Greenhouse production enables the growth of high value crops that require regulated climatic conditions.  These crops can be produced commercially  to boost food productivity, income and nutrition. In the past this technique was mainly for the elite urban and white commercial farmer crop production for export.

Practical Action's INSPIRE programme is seeking to promote food productivity, income and nutrition in Mutasa district by promoting the use of greenhouses in the rural areas. To date Practical Action has established two greenhouses in the district,to showcase the concept to the rural smallholder commercial farmers.

“I only thought that one can earn a living by making sales from crop yields only. Now it is going to be easier to start nursery seedling production as a business in our ward.  We have so far received greenhouse in our wards as a demonstration site in our ward. With the knowledge acquired during the tour we can earn a living to better our lives and healthy.”        Alice Katiyo – Ward 15

Members of Wayforward group in ward 18 received a 144m² greenhouse through Practical Action which is used as a demonstration plot for rural farmers to learn the technology, replicate and adopt it in the rural communities.

Mutasa district enjoys resources such as water, good soils, climatic conditions, pine and gum forests and natural forests. The pine bark that was being used as input for the production of seedlings under the nursery section of the two visited sites is abundant in Mutasa. There are many pine saw millers who process pine bark as a byproduct.

This visit will help extensionist to learn more about these technologies so that that can give advice to farmers on greenhouse production.Farmers who have established a demonstration greenhouse through the project took advantage of the visit to buy 300 hybrid Daniella tomato seedlings to plant in their greenhouse.

It is anticipated that when the crop has matured, the estimated yield will be around 1,400kgs, meaning an income of $1500.00 over 6 months. The group is also looking to market the high quality tomatoes at the local Watsomba auction floor and to supermarkets in Mutare. The visit opened nursery business opportunities in the district for the different horticultural value chains such as tomatoes, leafy vegetables, and onions.

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