Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Another Bumper Agricultural Season Beckons In Zimbabwe
Dr. Joseph Made is the Minister of Agriculture in Zimbabwe.
September 24, 2014
Herald Reporters

Zimbabwe is headed for yet another successful agricultural season following yesterday’s announcement that the Presidential Well-Wishers Input Scheme for the 2014-15 summer cropping season will cover all food crops and cotton for about 1,6 million households. Under the scheme, A1 and communal farmers will receive 150kg ammonium nitrate fertiliser, 150kg Compound D, 150kg Lime and 10kg seeds each by November 1.

The success registered in agriculture last season was attributed mainly to the same scheme and normal-to-above-normal rains.

This accounted for an increase in production from 758 000 tonnes of maize to 1,4 million tonnes.

Seed and fertilisers are also readily available, with producers yesterday giving assurances that they were ready to deliver.

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said Government had an elaborate programme to cover maize, small grains, cotton, soyabean and livestock.

“The main issue that has been a major outcry is support of inputs and that is what we have prepared,” he said.

Addressing guests at the launch of a partnership between a local company Triomf and a South African firm to provide 20 000 tonnes of fertiliser, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Cde Davis Marapira yesterday said co-mmunal, A1 and old resettlement farmers were the toast of agriculture.

“We are grateful that this season there are several input schemes to assist farmers,” he said. “We have private organisations, we have the Zanu-PF youths (providing inputs worth $2,4 billion) and today we have Triomf who are bringing in new fertilizers with partnership from South Africa.

“This is going to reduce our pressure on inputs supply of which I believe this year’s inputs supply is better than the previous year’s supply.”

Cde Marapira commended Triomf for launching its brand of fertilizers as a compliment to Government efforts enshrined in the ZimAsset economic blueprint.

He said the fertilizers to be imported from South Africa included Mushe Maize, Liquid Lime, Nitrex and other fertilizer products for maize, tobacco, soyabeans, cotton and sugarcane.

“With support from Government, development partners and the private sector in the form of seeds, fertilizers and extension services, progressive improvements in crop yields in the various farming sectors would be achieved this season,” said Cde Marapira.

Cde Marapira said the target for Government programme was to achieve two million tonnes of maize output as stated in ZimAsset.

Triomf Zimbabwe executive director Mr Elias Musakwa said they were prepared to provide farmers with fertilizers countrywide and they alreayd had about 20 000 metric tonnes in stock.

“We are prepared to supply fertilizers and we have since identified business partners countrywide who we are giving them stock for free so that they can sell to farmers,” he said. “Farmers don’t need to travel to Harare to get the fertilizer, but will get them on their door step.”

Fertiliser industry spokesperson and Chemplex chief executive officer Mr Samson Misheck Kachere said they would supply enough fertilizers.

He said stocks of fertilizer comprised of 30 000 tonnes of Compound A and a similar amount of Ammonium Nitrate and production of more volumes was underway.

Mr Kachere said they would produce 25 000 tonnes of fertilizers per month for the next three months.

“Sales are low, so there is need for cash injection to kick-start the whole cycle in terms of supply, but we are ready for the season and just waiting particularly for Government to place its order for 1,6 million households as announced,” he said.

Seed houses said they were distributing enough seed in retail outlets and agronomists were helping farmers with advise on the correct variety to buy for specific areas.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said the prices of seed and fertilizers had not increased, although farmers wished the price of fertlizer could be subsidised to increase viability.

Meanwhile, the $98 million agricultural equipment from Brazil has started arriving in the country and will be distributed as soon as the full package arrives.

Director of Mechanisation, Mr Rabson Gumbo said the first batch of equipment arrived two weeks ago and included tractors, ploughs and seeders.

“The equipment will not benefit individual farmers but those in the irrigation schemes,” he said. “The process will be handled by Agribank and we expect the full package to arrive before the season advances as it is to be used during this farming season.”

The number of Zimbabweans requiring food aid is set to decline from 2,2 million to 565 000 next year as the country starts reaping benefits of the Food Security and Nutrition cluster of ZimAsset which ensures food sustenance at national and household level.

The Food Agricultural Organisation and the World Food Programme underpinned the envisaged improvement in food security on provisions of ZimAsset.

The Meteorological Department has forecast normal to above normal rainfall throughout the 2014/15 cropping season, though some areas will experience dry spells towards the end of the season.

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