Monday, June 27, 2011

Zimbabwe Agriculture Update: Seed Company Urges Boost in Food Production

Seed Co urges boost in food production

Friday, 24 June 2011 01:00
Zimbabwe Herald
Agriculture Reporter

SEED CO has encouraged farmers to maximise production to reduce the effects of looming global food shortages. A boost in food production will ensure the country's food security and reduce money spent on imports.

Speaking at a hand over ceremony of funds towards the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union golf tournament, Seed Co public relations and communications manager Ms Majorie Mutemererwa said Zimbabwe was not immune to looming global food shortages. To this end, there was need for farmers to increase production.

"We feel that farmers play a vital role in the ensuring food security and also contribute towards the economy of the country. While farmers should work hard to feed the nation there is also need to find some time from the field and interact with each other," she said.

Ms Mutemererwa who handed over US$250 donation towards the tournament said functions like these were essential to facilitate a break and interaction of farmers with other stakeholders in the agriculture industry.

"While it may seem to be a sporting activity, some farmers may learn new business ideas from this golf tournament through interaction with their counterparts," she said.

Speaking at the same function, ZCFU secretary-general, Eng Adiel Karima said his organisation was willing to work with Seed Co and the seed company had always been forthcoming to the union's assistance.

"We hope to hold more business with the company, making sure that farmers will sustain this relationship by giving Seed Co continued business," he said.

Eng Karima encouraged farmers to attend social gatherings, as they are platforms of knowledge exchange.


More wheat planted this season

Wednesday, 22 June 2011 01:00
By Elita Chikwati

MORE than 9 700 hectares of wheat have been planted so far, an increase of 56 percent from last year's 6 222 hectares.

The crop is reported to be in good condition in most parts of the country.

The latest information from Agritex is that the planted wheat is at emergence stage while some of it is at the tilling stage and 27 percent is in the late vegetative stage.

Wheat production has been declining over the years as farmers continue to face problems of late availability of inputs, constant power cuts and lack of funding.

Consumers have recently encountered shortages of bread, attributed to flour scarcity. Zimbabwe requires 450 000 tonnes of wheat every year.

But it is currently producing less than 100 000 tonnes. As a result it is now a net importer of the cereal.

Mashonaland West has the biggest area under wheat at 3 130ha, compared with 1 761 last year.

Of the hectares planted, 20 percent is at emergence stage, 62 percent is at early vegetative and 18 at the tilling stage.

The crop in the province is reported to be in good condition, although persistent power cuts could affect the yield.

Mashonaland Central has 1 522ha under wheat, with 35 percent at emergence stage, 24 percent at early vegetative and 41 percent at tilling.

A hectare of wheat has been planted in Guruve representing a decrease from last year's 20ha.

At least 32ha of wheat have been planted in Muzarabani and the crop, which is at early vegetative and tilling stages, is reported to be in good condition.

Herbicides, pesticides and fungicides, though expensive, are available on the open market.

But power cuts are affecting irrigation and are likely to affect yields.

Mashonaland East has 1 436ha under wheat with 24 percent of the crop currently at emergence stage, 3 percent at early vegetative stage, 52 percent at tilling stage and 21 percent at late vegetative stage.

The crop is reportedly good in all the districts.

Although power cuts are also affecting irrigation cycles, there are no reports of severe moisture stress.

In Manicaland, 1 338ha have been planted, compared with 1 307ha planted during the same period last year.

Of the planted hectarage, 38 percent is at emergence stage, 48 percent at early vegetative and 14 percent at tilling stage.

In terms of provincial total, Nyanga district has planted 80ha, 73 percent less than last year's.

Chimanimani has 76ha compared with 180ha last year.

But Makoni district has registered an increase of 123 percent from last season's 186ha to 415ha this year. The crop is in "fair to good" condition.

Midlands province has doubled wheat production this season with 831ha planted this year from last season's 448ha.

Of the province's total for, Kwekwe has 623 ha, representing an increase from last year's 345 ha.

The crop is generally in good condition. although constant power cuts are threatening production.

Masvingo has so far planted 377ha, a decline from 533ha from last year.

The crop is in good condition with 98 percent of it at early vegetative stage and the remaining 2 percent at emergence stage.


Schemes to benefit 250 000 farmers

Friday, 24 June 2011 01:00
Agriculture Reporter

AT least 250 000-smallholder farmers will benefit from the revival of agro-dealership programmes meant to improve their access to technology and inputs.

This will ultimately improve productivity.

The farmers will be drawn from four of the country's 10 provinces.

Farmer unions, newly trained agro-dealers and a local non-governmental organisation are carrying out the agro-dealership revival programme throughout the country.

Under the scheme, agro-dealers will receive training and technical assistance in setting up their agro-dealerships as well as sponsorship for short-term credit from agriculture input supply companies in dry provinces such as Masvingo, Matebeleland North and South as well as the Midlands.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union president Mr Silas Hungwe said the perennial challenge facing local farmers in acquiring inputs in urban centres and high transport costs could be brought to an end by spreading agro-dealerships.

Outgoing programme director for the Agro-dealer Strengthening Programme in Zimbabwe Mr Raymond Waldron said the initiative should become long term to ensure farmers have access to inputs.

The agro-dealers strengthening programme anticipates to improve production by 35 percent and cash income by 23 percent for the farmers involved.

Support and training to agro-dealers is geared to bring agro-dealer services closer to the country's poorest farmers and revamp the market linkages between agro-suppliers and grassroots retailers.

In the recent past, countries in the Comesa grouping formed the Comesa Regional Agro Inputs Programme (COMRAP) designed to foster the emergence of improved financial packages aimed at smallholder farmers and agro-dealers.

Under the programme, Comesa will prepare banks to better assist smallholders and agro-dealers through organising training workshops where over 700 bank executives and front office staff and over 100 insurance officers will meet and interact with over 100 000 farmers.

The programme will contribute to increased access to structural financial services to farmers and reduce interest rates and increase the volume of loans to smallholders.

COMRAP programme is funded by the European Union and falls under the Common Market for East and Southern Africa and is being implemented by Comesa's specialised agency, the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA).

The programme is currently being implemented in eight Comesa countries.

Agro-dealerships had over the years disappeared owing to a number of challenges encountered during implementation.


Serbia to assist in agriculture

Friday, 24 June 2011 01:00
Agriculture Reporter

SERBIA has pledged to assist Zimbabwe in resuscitating the agriculture industry particularly in the department of mechanisation.

This will see the country getting assistance on agriculture machinery, implements and irrigation equipment.

Speaking after a meeting with the Serbian ambassador to Zimbabwe, Goran Vujicic, Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made said the two parties had agreed to work together in different sectors of the agriculture industry.

He said the two parties agreed on the need to modernise agriculture to meet the increasing clientele of new farmers who came on board as a result of the land reform programme.

"The old and new farmers require support in terms of machinery and equipment. We will be considering tillage, tractive machinery, harvesting machinery and irrigation equipment," he said.

This will see Serbia partially manufacturing agriculture machinery and equipment in Zimbabwe.

"Serbia will be manufacturing 30 percent of machinery while the remaining 70 percent will be done in Zimbabwe,' he said.

Minister Made said this would give Zimbabwe the opportunity to resuscitate agriculture industry and lead to employment of many people.

The two parties also discussed on agro-processing as another way of co-operation.

Minister Made said while local farmers were capable of producing there was need for adequate knowledge on processing of the produced commodities according to market requirements.

Thus local farmers could take advantage of the vast knowledge and experience of agro-processing from Serbia.

"We agreed to work together so that we can have our processed agricultural commodities jointly put on the world market," he said.

To consolidate this the two parties agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of agriculture.

A cluster of companies visiting Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa will follow this.

A delegation from Zimbabwe is also expected to visit Serbia to look their agriculture activities.

Minister Made said Serbia was one of the strong countries in the world in terms of good machinery and reasonable prices.

Amb Vujicic said his country was ready to assist Zimbabwe to achieve a complete turn around in its agriculture sector.

"We would want to boost our relations with Zimbabwe in the filed of agriculture.

"We understand Zimbabwe has an economic crisis but we would want to do our best to bring the best assistance to the people of Zimbabwe," he said.

He expressed confidence that the exchange of delegations and signing of the MoU will see the revival of Zimbabwe's agriculture as the two countries co-operate in agriculture.

Zimbabwe's relationship with Serbia dates back to the liberation struggle.

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