The Sunday Mail
Farmers must be innovative and apply resources diligently if they are entertaining any hopes of a successful farming season, the Zimbabwe Farmers Union has said.
In an interview last week, Mr Paul Zakariya – the ZFU executive director – said farmers should find ways of dealing with the short cropping season and high cost of inputs.
“We want our farmers to be very innovative so as to overcome the short farming seasons. They must also find ways of dealing with the lack of funding and inputs. Not all farmers are going to benefit from the US$1 billion facility and also from the Presidential Inputs Scheme. Instead, farmers must set aside whatever they have and fund themselves.” Mr Zakariya also urged farmers to use organic fertilisers.
“Small-scale and communal farmers should apply manure in place of basal fertilisers. In the event that they do not have money to buy maize seed, they can also plant maize harvested from last season.
“The two bags (compound D and ammonium nitrate) that communal farmers are given under the Presidential Inputs Scheme only serve as a platform for farmers to get a head start for the season. There is need for the farmer to top up,” Mr Zakariya said.
Recently, banks set aside a US$1 billion facility for strategic crops and livestock, with inputs producers also expected to benefit. The Bankers’ Association of Zimbabwe and Government are in discussions to come up with a formula to distribute the money.
Farmers across the country are putting final touches to season preparations while some have already planted a crop, bouyed by the reduction in fertiliser and fuel prices.
Diesel dropped from around US$1,36 to about US$1,14 per litre at most service stations in recent weeks.
“The continuous drop in input prices inputs means that farmers are going to procure more inputs.
This also translate into increased profit margin for the farmer. This is a welcome development for all farmers. We must arrest the problem of high costs of production which are still high when compared to the regional prices,” Mr Zakariya said.
The United Nations Development Programme and the ZFU launched a Zimbabwe Young Farmers Innovation Lab Programme in July this year as a collaborative entrepreneurship model targeting to transform farming practices into productive and commercially-viable agri-business ventures.
The pilot programme targets 100 farmers in Honde Valley, Murehwa, Goromonzi, Harare peri-urban and Chimanimani.