Posted on , 18 January 2021
“Sunflower’s most valuable processing opportunities come from its input into animal feed and use as edible oil”
Written by Amos Batisayi
The Agriculture Business Centre (ABC) is developing the sunflower value chain in Gokwe South district. The development of the sunflower value chain will go a long way in tackling rural poverty by increasing the productivity and income of smallholder farmers.
The development of the sunflower value chain has received a positive response from Gokwe smallholder farmers as they view the development of the crop as a direct replacement of the white gold (cotton) which continues to experience a drop in world prices.
Prices for other crops that the farmers have relied on over the years have been affected by volatility in world markets as prices continue to shrink resulting in low income for farmers
For years sunflower farming has been side-lined because no potential buyer has been there for the crop and those small holder farmers who have been involved in the farming of sunflower, have been doing it at a small-scale.
Linkages to local processors or buyers is limited hence the biggest reason why sunflower production has not taken off in the same manner as other crops such as cotton, maize and groundnuts
Lack of reliable markets has also been one of the main constraints faced by smallholder farmers who are involved in the production of sunflower. Many farmers have been receiving low prices for their produce by selling them to middlemen and community oil pressers.
After noticing the challenges that are faced by sunflower farmers in Gokwe and the huge potential that lies in sunflower farming. The Agriculture Business Centre is engaged in the development of sunflower value chain with the view of commercializing sunflower farming in Gokwe.
The ABC has put in place mechanisms to cushion smallholder farmers from market volatility because prices for groundnuts, maize, and cotton are being affected by volatility in world markets hence the need to cushion sunflower farmers.
Farmers who sold their produce to the ABC during the 2019 to 2020 farming season expressed satisfaction with the prices that are were offered by the Agriculture Business Centre and they have committed themselves to the development of the sunflower value chain in Gokwe.
Trust Mawire one of the contracted sunflower farmer from Mapu said “sunflower is widely adaptable and more drought tolerant than most other grain crops it can, in fact, tolerate high temperatures and drought conditions more effectively than other crops such as maize hence I have decided embrace this initiative that is being brought into our community by the ABC”.
Maize, cotton, and groundnuts have been our primary earners of cash, although their market prices have continued to shrink over the years, the coming in of ABC with the development of the Sunflower value chain is a welcome development to the Gokwe community he said.
Another farmer from Jahana, Ruben Ndebele expressed satisfaction with the price that was offered by the ABC. “I sold my sunflower at a very good price; l actually earned a lot of money as compared to other famers who had cotton and maize. I am more determined to plant huge hectarage during the 2020 to 2021 farming season because of the more rewards l got from sunflower farming.”
“There is generally little cost of inputs in the production of sunflower, with changing rainfall patterns and extended drought seasons being involved in the development of sunflower value chain is one of the noble things that l have decided to do to cushion my family from the effects of drought that have been witnessed in the past years” said Ndebele.
ABC is providing farmers with all necessary provisions for the proper development of the value chain by giving the smallholder farmers inputs and extension services to improve the quality of the produce. Providing certified seeds is important as the oil content of the crop will be high and high yielding sunflower means good profit margins to the farmers.
Sunflower’s most valuable processing opportunities come from its input into animal feed and use as edible oil. The ABC will be pressing oil at its processing centre in Gokwe and feed formulation.