Sunday Mail Reporter
Prices of agricultural inputs have increased owing to high production costs of better-yielding varieties.
A survey carried out by The Sunday Mail last week shows that fertiliser prices rose from US$30 per 50kg bag last year to US$37.
Seed maize, which averaged US$20 per 10kg bag for short-season varieties and US$25 per 10kg for medium to long-season varieties, is now ranging between US$23 to US$25 for short-season varieties while the medium to long-term varieties cost between US$25 and US$47.
Pioneer Zimbabwe sales representative Mr Dumezweni Sibanda said manufacturers are incurring huge costs in producing new varieties.
“It is not that we are increasing input prices, but high-yielding products attract higher prices. The costs we incur in coming up with such products that are drought-resistant are very high,” he said.
“Therefore, each time we introduce a new variety it will have a higher price and farmers would think we are increasing prices.”
Farmers interviewed at the Harare Agricultural Show said the high prices had forced them to rely heavily on Government input schemes.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union director Mr Shadreck Tsimba said farmers were struggling to make profits.
“Farmers are making losses because of high costs of production. Besides, there are also other challenges like climate change. High production costs should not be passed on to the farmers,” he said.
University of Zimbabwe agricultural analyst Mr Obert Jiri said seed houses were struggling to break even mainly because of overhead costs.
“The major drivers of input prices are operational costs, which are being driven by salaries. Since dollarisation, salaries have been part of the major drivers of inflation in the country,” said Mr Jiri.
“Very soon, an era of educated young farmers who are able to calculate a profit and loss will come. If some agriculture organisations like those in the cotton industry continue to survive by ripping off farmers, they will eventually collapse.”
Meanwhile, most input suppliers have confirmed they have enough seed and fertiliser for the forthcoming cropping season.