The 2022/2023 summer cropping season preparations have been thrown into disarray following inputs price hikes by retailers and dealers, farmers have said.
Zimbabwe is targeting three million tonnes of grain during next farming season but with top dressing fertiliser going for US$74 per 50 kilogramme bag from US$56 last season and basal going for US$45 from US$36 last year, farming will be costly for growers.
The prices of seed have also gone up to ZWL$27 000 per 25kg from ZWL$13000 last year.
The farmers said producer prices should also be constantly reviewed to match the increase in inputs prices.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Shadreck Makombe told Business Times that Zimbabwe needs to prepare fully for a make or break season as there are no strategic grain reserves to cater for the deficit left by a poor season’s shortfall.
“With inputs prices as high as they are, various farmers will find it difficult to go back to the land and as such production will be affected in a big way. We are pleading with suppliers to come up with competitive prices. The government should find ways of making sure seeds are affordable,” Makombe said.
“If the government may give subsidies to fertiliser and seed producers in form of reducing some taxes or extending incentives to ensure that inputs are affordable and farmers are producing to reduce imports.
“We are coming from a very difficult summer cropping season which resulted in low output therefore we should prepare hard for the forthcoming season to get enough food for the country to avoid importation.
“The country can’t afford to have another poor season as this will be catastrophic due to other headwinds that the country is facing hence we can’t afford to use elusive forex to import grain when we have the best climate agriculture,” Makombe said.
This year a total area of 1 900 754 hectares were put under maize with a projected yield of 1 557 914 tonnes. Zimbabwe National Farmers Union chairman Stewart said the skyrocketing of inputs prices would affect agriculture transformation.
“The country is facing a huge increase in production costs culminating from the increase of inputs and tillage costs thereby making it difficult to transform the agriculture sector.
“Though there is a huge chunk of farmers under CBZ Agro Yield and the Presidential Inputs Scheme, self-financing farmers are in for a high jump as inputs prices have gone up to an extent that farmers see no reason to plant as they are no margins for one to grow,” Mubonderi said.
“If input costs go unchecked, agriculture will face serious viability challenges as we rely much on the sector for the economic turnaround.”
Ordinary farmers have complained over the continuous increase in input prices which they said could throw 2022/2023 summer cropping season into disarray if not attended.
The farmers are concerned that the producer prices have remained the same at a time when the inputs are skyrocketing.
“With fertiliser and seed prices soaring up like this and the maize price remaining at US$190 per tonne, the upcoming summer cropping season will be calamitous as I personally don’t see the reason why I should continue farming.
“I will only go back to the field if the government comes up with concrete measures that convince me that the authorities are serious about making agriculture a business.
“As it stands, farmers will not break even, worse with changing weather patterns the stakes for failure will be even higher,” a Goromonzi based farmer Josphat Kapembeza told this publication.