The PHI Commodities (PHI) administered private sector scheme has ploughed ZWL$3.5bn into contract farming for the 2021/2022 summer cropping season as it moves to boost output.
PHI does contract farming for Innscor and its associates like National Foods and Pure Oil Industries.
The contract farming scheme comes at a time when farmers are increasingly turning to contract farming and joint ventures to make up for the import substitution programme Command Agriculture which government abolished for smart agriculture.
PHI operations director Graeme Murdoch told Business Times that the private sector is ready for the 2021/2022 summer cropping and has begun planting.
“We have prepared 15,000 hectares for both maize and soyabeans and we have mobilised up to the tune of ZWL$3.5bn to grow these crops,” Murdoch said.
“The private sector has exhausted all its hectarage and has accessed its money with most farmers already planting.”
PHI has contracted commercial, A2, A1 and small scale farmers.
Only farmers with irrigation were prioritised, according to Murdoch.
Listed agro-industrial firm, National Foods plans to plant close to 10 000 hectares of both soyabeans and maize under contract farming for this summer cropping season.
Maize will be on 8,000 hectares and soyabeans under 2000 hectares.
The company is likely going to do away with potato, popcorns and sugar beans due to funding issues.
It is estimated that the company will take in close to 70,000 tonnes of maize and soya beans from local contracted farmers.
The scheme is expected to cover over 60 commercial farmers.
Murdoch said the funding system won’t be very different from the previous years’ investments, only that the company has added popcorn contract farming for its new product.
Banks were forthcoming in providing assistance for the growing of the key commodities (mainly wheat) and maize.
The company also procures grain from local farmers and imports in cases where there is inadequate local product.
Natfoods’ volumes for the first quarter ended September 30 2021 increased by 24% to 143,000 metric tonnes compared to the same period last year.
Maize volumes for the recently concluded 2020-2021 harvest were excellent and the 2021 wheat harvest (which is currently underway) promises to be the best in many years as National Foods is expecting over 30 000 tonnes.
Natfoods said agricultural recovery was most welcome as the requirement for imported raw materials will decrease significantly, reducing the burden on the fiscus and improving household incomes.