High input costs threaten 2021/22 cropping season

 

LIVINGSTONE MARUFU

 

Farmers have warned that high  input costs  could jeopardise the 2021/22 summer cropping season, Business Times can report.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president Shadreck Makombe told Business Times that prices of fertilisers and seed should be affordable.

“We appeal to the fertiliser and seed companies to charge reasonable prices to allow farmers to prepare adequately for the upcoming summer cropping season. If more farmers can buy their inputs, the government can spend less on its various programmes and fewer farmers will borrow from the banks,” Makombe said.

A 50 kilogramme (kg) bag of fertiliser is currently selling at ZWL$3000 on average while a 25kg bag of seed is going for about ZWL$12500.

The high prices, Makombe said, would deter most farmers from self-financing.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union secretary general Paul Zakariya  said the prices of inputs should be  affordable.

He also lamented the delays by government to pay farmer for produce delivered.

“One of the biggest impediments that we have is that several farmers are experiencing delays in payments for the produce they delivered, and this will negatively impact on summer cropping preparations.

“The authorities in various marketing boards should move with speed to ensure that farmers are paid on time to allow them to buy their inputs,” Zakariya said.

He said if the farmers can get the money in time they will have the working capital for their 2021/2022 summer cropping season.

Farmers’ unions have also called upon the farmers to up their land preparations to get maximum yields.

“If farmers could do winter ploughing they could conserve more moisture which could help the crops in the time of mid-season droughts. And for those who do not have the implements and machinery they can do the Pfumvudza conservative farming of digging holes and putting much to conserve moisture,” Zakariya said.

He urged farmers to send their soil samples for testing to check the PH levels which talks about how acidic the soil is.

The farmers were also urged to apply lime to correct soil acidity.

The development comes at a time when government  is targeting increased crop production  and productivity in the 2021/22 summer cropping season.

Government want the country to surpass the national requirement.

“This will be achieved through the implementation of the Agriculture Recovery Plan anchored on, inter-alia, the timely provision of inputs such as fertilisers, seed, fuel and agrochemicals, consistent supply of key utilities such as power, fuel and water to farmers, access to appropriate finance for inputs and working capital and involving the private and financial services sectors,” the Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa said.

The other strategies, Mutsvangwa said include continuous support of the targeted farmers with irrigation and mechanisation services to improve efficiencies and climate proofing, capacitating the extension and advisory service delivery system to enhance responsiveness to farmers’ needs and strengthening government-wide coordination, monitoring and evaluation.

She said the strategy will result in more area being put to crop production as evidenced by the proposed increase of the hectarage of the maize, sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet, soya bean and tobacco.

The financing of the Summer Cropping and Livestock Programme will be through the public and private sector as well as development partners.

The government will finance the Presidential Crop and Livestock Input Schemes through Treasury and provide Government default guarantee for programmes funded through the Agricultural Finance Corporation and CBZ.

The National Crop Production Plan for the 2021-2022 Season also includes proposals on Private Sector Led Programmes, categorised into Potato Value Chain Financing and Private sector Commodity Value Chain Financing or Contract Farming.

 

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