Harare (New Ziana)-As the cropping season is upon the country, the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZFU) is urging the government to intervene and ensure prices of agricultural inputs are reduced to enable farmers to return to the fields this year.
ZCFU president Dr Shadreck Makombe told New Ziana that most farmers were hesitating to prepare all their farming land because the prices of inputs were beyond their reach.
“Around the country, farmers are ready, the only unfortunate thing is that as much as they would have wanted to be as ready as possible, they are constrained by exorbitant prices of inputs,” he said.
“This is causing a scenario whereby a farmer wanted to plant 10 hectares, but because of the exorbitant prices, he or she will be forced to reduce the hectarage to plant.
Makombe urged the government to intervene to save the farmers from making losses year after year.
He said although agricultural inputs were readily available in the country it was meaningless to the majority of the farmers, as they could not afford to buy them.
“Seeds, fertilizers and other inputs are readily available, but the inhibiting factor is the price. That is why we are appealing to the authorities to advise the suppliers that it is inexpedient to hike prices whenever the farming season is upon us,” he said.
Makombe took the opportunity to warn farmers against start to plant using the rains which have recently been falling throughout the country.
“With regard to information from the Meteorological Services Department and others with the know-how, coupled with past experiences, it is not advisable to start planting in most areas as it stands right now because in the past, those who did so were seriously affected by a false start to the rainy season,” he said.
“However, those with water to irrigate so that they can supplement the rainwater can go ahead and plant.”
He also urged farmers to consult agronomists on the types of seed varieties that were suitable for their area as these differed from one rainfall region to another.
“We encourage farmers to use the best agronomic practices like water harvesting and, in terms of drainage, they should use the contour system. Also, famers should not only stick to the traditional systems, but be innovative and be able to welcome new ideas,” he said.
Meanwhile, Agricultural Technical and Extension Services (AGRITEX) chief director Stancilae Tapererwa said the Presidential Input Scheme was underway throughout the country.
“Farmers should concentrate on land preparations. Those with supplementary irrigation should plant now while those on dry land, depending on their expected season starting dates, may not plant now.
“Those planting now should use long to medium maturity varieties,” he said.
“For specific advice, farmers should get hold of their ward Agritex officers. “
The Presidential Inputs Program, commonly known as Pfumvudza/Intwasa is expected to distribute agricultural inputs to 3.5million households this cropping season after the government released $20 billion for rolling it out.