Agriculture

Farming inputs scheme for civil servants

NEW FARM INPUTS CREDIT FACILITY FOR CIVIL SERVANTS TO BE LAUNCHED
Harare March 27, 2012 (New Ziana)-The Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) will on Friday launch a credit scheme for farming inputs for civil servants in partnership with the Public Service Association (PSA) and retail giant Farm and City Center.
In a statement ZFU said the credit facility was negotiated to assist civil servants access farm inputs and implements on easy terms.
“Under the facility, civil servants who are members of the union will be allowed to buy on credit a range of unlimited products at all the Farm and City Center outlets country wide,” it said, adding the PSA would determine the credit limit basing on the net salary of an applicant.
Farm and City Center would recover its money through stop orders on salaries.
The ZFU said it would pursue similar facilities to enhance service delivery to its members as well as promote agricultural productivity in the country.
Agricultural production in the country has dipped over the years as farmers, most of who are newly resettled, fail to access inputs on time.
New Ziana

Cotton earnings double despite drop in production

COTTON EARNINGS DOUBLE DESPITE DROP IN PRODUCTION
Harare February 22, 2011(New Ziana) –Zimbabwean cotton farmers last season raked in US$200 million, almost double the amount they earned in 2010, spurred by high international lint prices despite a seven percent drop in production, an official said on Wednesday.
Cotton is the country’s largest foreign currency earner in agriculture after tobacco.
Squabbles over prices that ginners were offering marred the 2010 selling season resulting in some farmers holding on to their crop while many others contemplated shifting to other cash crops.
Agriculture Marketing Authority (AMA) chief executive officer Rockie Mutenha said farmers earned US$200 million in the 2011 season from 249 904 metric tones of the white gold, which was a seven percent decline in production.
“The increase in the value of seed cotton is attributable to higher international lint prices that prevailed during the last half of 2010 and first quarter of 2011. Hence despite a seven percent decline in volume, revenue realised doubled,” he said.
When the 2011 selling season began cotton was selling at an average of US$0, 84 per kilogram compared to US$0.30 in 2010.
However the price tumbled to an average of US$0, 40 per kilogram following a fall in demand of the white gold internationally due to huge stocks in some cotton consuming countries.
The government introduced a cotton levy last year which will be dedicated to training and extension services as part of efforts to increase production.
Poor yields ranging between 600 and 700 kilograms per hectare against the ideal levels of between 1 200 and 1 500 have been cited as one factor hindering local cotton growers for reaping maximum profits.
Meanwhile, Mutenha said at least 14 contractors were registered during the 2011/ 12 farming season, up from 13 last year, and these distributed inputs in cotton growing areas.
“Details of crop estimates will become available later in the season,” he said.
At least 300 0000 hectares had been targeted for planting cotton this season but late rains and poor rainfall distribution affected the plans.
New Ziana

Late rains cripple soya bean production

LATE RAINS CRIPPLE SOYA BEANS PRODUCTION
Harare January 16 2012(New Ziana)-The late onset of rains countrywide has caused a decline in soya bean production this farming season with at least 12 000 hectares having been planted by 30 December 2011, down from 21 000 the previous year.
According to the latest Agritex national crop report, production of the legume has been on a downward trend from a peak of 170 000 tonnes in 2001 to around 20 000 tonnes.
National demand for the crop is estimated at 220 000 tonnes per year but output is barely a quarter of that.
Low producer prices and lack of financial support to farmers has led to the sharp decline resulting in industries that rely on the crop having to import the raw material.
Soya bean Promotion Taskforce chairman professor Sheunesu Mupepereki said many farmers were eager to plant the crop.
“The major challenge was the late onset of rains country wide. We cannot dry plant soya beans. It is not recommended but many farmers were willing to plant the crop only to be let down by the rains,” he said.
“I think this is a temporary challenge considering that the circumstances surrounding the low hectarage planted were beyond our control.”
Mupepereki said poor organisation by contractors had also led to the decline as contract farming arrangements were shambolic.
He said this resulted in artificial shortages of seed being created.
Mupepereki however commended the government and players in the industry for their efforts to revive the industry.
“There is now a full appreciation of the importance of soya beans in the country shown by the formation of an association by oil expressers.
“The government on its part is doing all it can as seen by the Agricultural Marketing Authority agro bills initiative which was however hit by low subscription,” he said.
Production is likely to go up as long as the rains come early and support is availed to farmers, he said.
Soya beans contribute at least 30 percent of all the cooking oil production while cotton seed contributes 50 percent.
New Ziana

Zim maize production likely to fall

ZIMBABWE MAIZE HARVEST TO FALL 35 PERCENT THIS YEAR
Harare January 11, 2012 (New Ziana) -Maize production is likely to fall by 35 percent this year due to late onset of rains, the Agricultural Extension Services says.
An Agritex crop report released this week shows that the country planted 247 000 hectares of maize from November to January, down from 379 993 hectares in same period a year earlier as a result of late rains.
Farmer sin the country planted 130 944 hectares of sorghum and other small grains, compared with 136 131 hectares the previous year.
The report also shows that cotton production also decreased with a total of 45 000 hectares planted compared with 107 727 hectares last season.
Farmers planted soybeans on 5 079 hectares compared with 13 674 hectares, and tobacco on 39 393 hectares compared with 43 545 hectares.
Maize production increased by nine percent in 2010 compared to the previous season.
Food security remains a cause for concern for Zimbabwe with a protracted dry spell threatening to cause massive crop failure in most parts of the country.
New Ziana

Small grains production on the rebound

SMALL GRAINS PRODUCTION ON RECOVERY PATH
Harare January 10, 2012 (New Ziana)-Production of small grains is on the recovery path in Zimbabwe following a dip mainly induced by poor pricing over the years.
Production of small grains such as sorghum, millet and rapoko has been on the decline over the years due to difficulties farmers experienced in securing commercial buyers, low producer prices and losses caused by quelea birds.
This led stakeholders in the agriculture sector to formulate strategies to promote small grain production, primarily to enhance food security in dry areas as well as generating income for farmers.
The government is strongly backing the drive to grow small grains including indigenous varieties as they promote food security especially in drier regions.
Small Grains Producers Association chairman Basil Nyabadza said small grains production was improving.
“As small grains producers we are doing particularly well. We are using irrigation schemes to boost production,” he said.
“At the moment we have a market for everything and by far the biggest seller is groundnuts followed by soya beans, millet and sunflower,” he said.
Nyabadza said some farmers were however still struggling to get a market due to poor yield quality.
“The problem that we have at the moment is that some farmers have been producing grains of varied quality which at times proves difficult to sell.
“But we cannot even meet the demand both on local and regional markets,” he said.
He said small grains producers had already started preparations for the next farming season as they wanted to avoid rushing when planting time approached.
“We have already made provisions to have seed delivered on time,” said Nyabadza.
Significant improvements are still needed in the production of small grains with priority being placed on the establishment of a post harvest market system to increase the contribution of small grains to ending recurrent food deficits.
New Ziana

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