‘Govt’s maize target ambitious’



Government’s ambitious 3m tonnes maize target   this year will be difficult to achieve, due to high costs of production and excessive rains experienced in the past few weeks, experts have said.

They said a target of 1.6m tonnes was realistic.

According to official figures, the area under maize increased 21% to 1.88m hectares from 1.56m hectares planted last year.

Of the 1.88m hectares, the self-financed farmers account for 85% with command and Pfumvudza and other schemes accounting for 15%.

“The 3m maize output figure seems to be way out of reach given the current standing in the fields. The figure seems to be overly optimistic as there is a high cost of production and other factors that affected production.

“I would put this year’s maize output at around 1.6m tonnes with over 400 000 tonnes expected to be imported to be self-sufficient,” agricultural specialist, Graeme Murdoch told Business Times.

According to experts, the cost of production has spiked 52% to US$1975 per hectare in this current year against the usual US$1300 following the increase in fertiliser prices caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.

The conflict has caused fertiliser costs to go up internationally but various countries have subsidised their farmers resulting in them buying at affordable prices.

The Zimbabwe National Farmers Union chairperson Stewart Mubonderi said the government should come up with policies that make inputs affordable.

“Fertiliser prices have made a huge impact on the total cost of production due to the impact of the Eastern Europe conflict but the government should subsidize the farmers to buy affordable fertiliser to improve production levels,” Mubonderi said.

He said that given that most farmers are self-sourcing resources, the prices of the inputs should be affordable.

Zimbabwe’s yield per hectare remains less than one tonne per hectare which is below regional peers.

The country requires 2.1m tonnes for both human and livestock consumption.

Last year, the country achieved 1.5m tonnes but benefitted from the 2020/2021  bumper harvest resulting in the country being self-sufficient despite having a drought.


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