The private sector is targeting to utilise 87 000 hectares of land under strategic crops in the 2022/2023 summer cropping season from around 60 000 hectares used in the prior comparative period.
The plan was revealed by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Anxious Masuka in the State of Preparedness Report.
“This year, the private sector is targeting a total of 87 000 hectares under three strategic crops with companies targeting 40 000 hectares under maize, 35 000 hectares under soyabeans and 12 000 hectares under sorghum,” Masuka said.
The increase in land use by private companies comes as the Meteorological Services Department predicted normal to above normal rainfall.
According to experts, the greatest advantage that the private sector has over other segments of farming is that it realises the highest yields per hectare as it hires experts to do their farming.
This comes as the government targets 237 000ha under the National Enhanced Agriculture Productivity Scheme (NEAPS) programme, with 205 000ha under maize, 25000ha under soyabeans, 5000ha under sunflower and 2000ha under sorghum.
NEAPS is a special command agriculture programme, which changed its modalities during the 2021/22 season when the government transferred responsibilities to the banks.
The AFC Land and Agriculture Development Bank will support farmers in the 2022/2023 summer season with funding for seed, fertilisers, chemicals, mechanisation, irrigation, electricity, labour, combine harvesting services and transport, among others, he said.
Most farmers have applied for the scheme with over 5000 farmers expected to join the programme.
It is expected that preference would be given to those with functional irrigation and those farming in high rainfall potential areas.
According to the latest report, Pfumvudza will also see 1.3m hectares under government support.
From the 3,445, 316 ha targeted this year, 1, 802,651 ha will be sponsored by either the public sector or private sector with the balance having to be utilised from own resources.
Last week, Masuka warned that nearly half of the country’s total hectarage will not access free agricultural inputs in the forthcoming summer cropping season like in previous years.
Government has over the years provided farming inputs such as seed and fertilisers, among other inputs under the Climate proofed Presidential Inputs Scheme, popularly known as Pfumvudza/Intwasa.
But, this summer cropping season, almost 48% of the country’s farmers will not receive government support.
The affected farmers are expected to utilise 1.67m hectares out of a total of 3.45m hectares.
Recently, Lands ministry permanent secretary John Basera told the farmers that there will be no free inputs as the growers should apply to the financial institutions for funding to finance their farming business.
Basera said the government will only help the vulnerable groups under the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme.