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May 18, 2011

Zimbabwe sunflower production declines

Sunflower production in Zimbabwe country has declined by 19 percent owing to unavailability of a guaranteed market, an official has said.

Last year 38 000 hectares were put under sunflower in the country, but in the 2010/11 cropping season, the hectarage has fallen to 31 000.

Agritex principal director Joseph Gondo said farmers were experiencing difficulties finding buyers for their sunflower crop because traditional buyers, cooking oil manufacturers, now preferred other crops to make the commodity. He said the manufacturers were also operating well below capacity.

“There is an ongoing panic from smallholder farmers who are abandoning sunflower farming for the reason that oil manufacturing companies opt for cotton seeds, groundnuts and soyabeans ahead of sunflower,” he said.

He implored oil manufacturing companies to offer a market for sunflower, and support its production, saying a lot of small-scale farmers depended on the crop.

Odzi farmer Fanuel Mtisi said there was no point in growing the crop that had no guaranteed market.

“We want to grow the crop, but as long as there is no ready market, we will grow other crops,” he said.
A sales manager for seed producing company Pannar, Tichaona Mapongah, said sunflower seed sales had decreased this year to around 20 tonnes from 30 tonnes last year. He also attributed the decline to the lack of a market for sunflower.

“Seeds of relatively good breeds are available and farmers can access them. The problem is there is no market. Olivine, Unilever and other oil manufacturers have to establish markets for sunflower,” Mapongah said.

New Ziana

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