Agriculture

Old and new farmers urged to share knowledge

OLD AND NEW TOBACCO FARMERS URGED TO SHARE KNOWLEDGE
Harare June 6, 2012 (New Ziana) – There is need to bridge the knowledge gap between old and new tobacco growers in order to increase the average yield of smallholder farmers which has remained depressed, a cabinet Minister said on Wednesday.
Agriculture Mechanization and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made said this at a graduation ceremony for over 400 Agritex and tobacco growers at Kutsaga Research Station near the Harare International Airport.
Minister Made said new growers lacked adequate and appropriate training in tobacco production.
“This is evident from the current tobacco yields obtaining in the small holder sector,” he said.
Although current varieties have the potential to yield up to 4, 5 tones/ha, Made said the average yield for the smallholder sector remains depressed at below 1 tone/ha.
He said the opportunity lied in the ready availability of appropriate packaged information and relatively well educated grower base.
“The number of smallholder tobacco growers has increased from 7 000 in 2000 to over 50 000.
“It is in this context that I regard current initiatives aimed at bridging the information gap such as the Kutsaga Tobacco Improved productivity Sites (TIPS) and the Agritex “train the trainer” programme as critical in the development of small holder tobacco sector,” he said.
Made said tobacco production required use of on-farm calendar based practical and a business-oriented approach to improve productivity.
Speaking at the same occasion chairperson of the newly appointed Tobacco Research Board (TRB) Millicent Mombeshora said growth of the industry was underpinned by super quality seeds from the research board.
Mombeshora however said challenges in information gap between new and old farmers were affecting tobacco production and quality.
“There is a lot of non-adherence to stock destruction and the high rates of deforestation are a threat to the growth of the sector,” she said.
Meanwhile about 55 sites across the country’s tobacco regions were used as training centers where they went through theory and practical training.
Agritex and growers who excelled over others on the one year certificate programme received prices which included motorbikes, tobacco inputs, generators and cell phones.
New Ziana

Farmers want government to start buying cotton now

FARMERS WANT GVT TO START MOVING ON COTTON
Harare June 5, 2012 (New Ziana) -Farmers on Tuesday urged the government to start buying cotton now as further delays will see them loosing out to fly-by night buyers while quality of the crop also gets compromised.
The government last week announced that it would buy cotton from farmers this season following an impasse with ginners over low producer prices.
The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) set US$0,48 to US$0,50 per kg for grade A cotton, US$0, 44 to US$0,48 for grade B, US$0,40 to US$0,43 per kg for grade C and US$0,36 to US$0,39 for grade D.
Most farmers are holding on to their crop, waiting for the government to pronounce new producer prices.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union executive director Paul Zakariya said it was the role of the government to intervene where there was deadlock.
“Government should quickly move in and announce new prices,” he said.
“As we speak, we eagerly await to hear what the next step will be as farmers are still holding on to their crop following our advice,” he said.
Zakariya said the union supported any move aimed at alleviating suffering among the farmers.
“We support any government initiatives to save farmers and we believe that the government has assessed all the risks associated with the move,” he said.
Zakariya also implored government to come up with a long term plan on production of the crop.
“We want long term planning in terms of how cotton is going to be produced in the country. Growers should not get stranded by lack of funding and we hope government is working on this,” he said.
Commenting on the same issue, Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Donald Khumalo concurred with Zakariya that the government should always protect the interests of farmers.
“World over, government has the role to intervene where there is an impasse to protect farmers. Government fears that cotton growers will be heavily buttered,” he said.
“Government realizes the predicament of farmers and wants to protect them.”
Khumalo however, said the move might be good for farmers but bad for industry which employs many people.
Zimbabwe is expected to produce between 265 000 tonnes and 280 000 tonnes of cotton this year, up from 249 000 tonnes last year.
New Ziana

Olivine targets 10 000 ha for soya beans this year

OLIVINE TARGETS 10 000 HECTARES FOR SOYA BEANS THIS YEAR
Harare May 28, 2012 (New Ziana)-Edible oils producer Olivine Industries will this cropping season spend US$1, 6 million contracting farmers to produce soya bean on 10 000 hectares, up from 2 000 hectares last year.
Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Agro-Industry Company (AICO) Africa Limited jointly owned Olivine Industries with a 51 percent and 49 percent stake respectively.
Shortages of soya beans, liquidity crunch and imported products have affected the company’s viability over the years.
AICO Africa Limited group chief executive officer Patrick Devenish said soya beans was one of the major raw materials at Olivine.
“We have been funding soya bean production in the country and in the 2012/13 farming season we are increasing the hectarage under contract farming to 10 000 hectares from 2 000.
“We want to ensure the availability of raw materials so we need more of the crop,” he said.
Devenish said the company would buy the product at prevailing market prices.
“Through contract farming farmers are guaranteed of a market which is one of the important things in farming,” he said.
“Farmers will be paid markets rates,” he added.
Soya bean production has been on the decline over the years due to lack of markets as local companies had reduced production as consumers preferred cheap imports.
Currently soya bean is fetching US$530 per tonne.
Established in 1931, Olive manufactures a wide range of consumer and industrial products such as vegetable oils, margarines, bakers’ fats, soaps, candles, dried beans and a wide range of canned foods.
New Ziana

Farmers urged to withold part of their crop

FARMERS URGED TO HOLD ON TO THEIR COTTON
Harare May 17, 2012 (New Ziana) – The Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) said Thursday farmers must not sell all of their cotton as it emerged that the producer prices set for this season are not viable.
The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) announced early this week that prices for cotton had been set at US 45 cents to US 50 cents per kg for grade A, USO.44 to US0.48 per kg for grade B, US0.40 to US0.43 per kg for grade C and US0.36 to US0.39 per kg for grade D.
Despite AMA saying the prices had taken into consideration production costs, experts argue that most farmers would not break even..
The farmers would need a minimum price of US0.76 per kg to break even.
In an advisory to farmers, the ZFU noted that while harvesting of the white gold was now in progress, farmers should not rush to sell all their crop at once.
“The union advises farmers not to sell all their cotton at once but to watch the market for possible improvements in prices,” the ZFU said.
On announcing the prices, AMA said thy were subject to review depending on those obtaining on the international market.
Meanwhile, reports from some cotton growing areas such as Rushinga indicate that some buyers were offering prices which are as low as US 25 cents per kg.
Setting of cotton prices in Zimbabwe is always a contentious issue at the beginning of every marketing season as farmers and buyers disagree on the pricing of the crop.
Cotton is one of the country's major export crops.
New Ziana

Agreement finally reached on cotton price

AGREEMENT FINALLY REACHED ON COTTON PRICE
Harare May 14, 2012 (New Ziana) –Ginners and farmers last week finally reached agreement on the producer price for cotton paving way for opening of the marketing season.
The two parties had been deadlocked on the producer price resulting in farmers holding on to their crop.
Prices for this season have been set at between US 0.45 to US0. 50 per kilogram for grade A, grade B US$0.44 to US$0.48, grade C US$0. 40 to US$0.43 and grade D US$0.36 to US$0.39.
Farmers had been demanding a minimum of US 50 cents per kg while buyers were adamant the prices were too high and wanted to pay around US 35 cents.
In a statement on Monday, the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) said the prices had been reached after looking at all the factors affecting the price of the white gold on the market.
“The prices were arrived at after taking into consideration farmers’ and ginners’ production costs, the price of lint on the international market and other market fundamentals,” it said.
AMA said the prices were however still subject to review depending on prices prevailing on the international market.
“Given this position, buyers who are able to pay higher prices that take into accounting these fundamentals are encouraged to pay prices above the indicative price ranges,” it said.
Negotiations for cotton pricing are conducted under the auspices of the Cotton Marketing and Technical Committee which comprises cotton farmers, ginners, the clothing and textile industry and AMA.
Some unregistered buyers were beginning to take advantage of the stalemate over the prices to rip off farmers who were desperate for cash to meet pressing commitments such as school fees and other basic needs.
By last week, most cotton buying points across the country remained closed due to the stalemate but these are due to open following the announcement of the producer prices.
An estimated 450 000 hectares of cotton were planted this season with the bulk of the hectarage having been funded by ginners.
Cotton is Zimbabwe’s second major agricultural export crop after tobacco.
New Ziana

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