Zimbabwe’s Chimanimani district is slowly turning into a potato farming hub as most communal farmers in the high rainfall parts of the district have shifted into growing the cash crop that they say has better returns.
Zimbabwe has a well-established history of potato farming, although production levels have been declining mainly due to rising costs of potato seed. Statistics of July last year indicated that it cost $12,000 to plant a hectare of potatoes.
However, communal farmers in Chimanimani said despite the high cost of production they chose potato farming as it has higher returns. The farmers said because of the difficulties in importing potato seed from South Africa they are growing small potions but believe with more support, production levels could increase substantially.
“We have good climatic conditions and soils capable of producing high yields here. I am expecting 35 tonnes per hectare. Here in Nhuka farm almost everyone is now focusing on potatoes,” said one farmer.
Agronomist, Edmore Apakuti said the surge in demand of the potato blend, that is considered cost effective, is a clear indication of the increasing levels of potato farming in the district. “The increase in demand of potato blends corresponds with the increase in the number of potato farmers.”
However, according to zbc.co.zw¸ most farmers outside the traditional potato farming areas lack basic knowledge of potato farming while most prospective farmers shy away from venturing into potato production due to the high production cost.