Farmer representatives have called on Government to expedite preparations for the 2014-15 summer cropping season amid indications that a comprehensive plan for the impending farming term has not yet been put in place.
The summer cropping season traditionally kicks off in September and farmers are fast getting jittery as they are in the dark due to the delay in announcement of the official roadmap. Farmers say Government has to draw up a clear plan which will give direction regarding preparations for the impending season.
Zimbabwe Indigenous Commercial Farmers’ Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said last season’s good harvest should not lull authorities into complacency.
He said farmers’ unions would soon meet with Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development officials to agitate for the plan. “This is a clear sign that we need to have a vision in all our planning as we get into the 2014-15 summer cropping season. We should not relax because last season we had a good harvest.
“We need inputs to be availed early this season as was the case last season under the Presidential input scheme,’’ said Mr Chabikwa.
Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union second vice-president Mr Berean Mukwende weighed in, saying late release of the plan could have a devastating effect on production.
“Up to now farmers are unaware whether Government will provide input support or not. Government needs to move with speed to ensure we have a successful season. All this uncertainty is not doing anyone any good.”
Government’s five-year economic plan, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset), places food security and agriculture productivity at the centre of economic development.
Last season around 1,6 million households received critical inputs ahead of time under the Presidential Well-Wishers Special Agricultural Input Support Scheme. As a result the country is anticipating to harvest not less than 1,4 million tonnes. Zimbabwe requires over 1,8 million tonnes of grain yearly.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development (Cropping) Deputy Minister Mr Davis Marapira recently told The Sunday Mail that Government was yet to come up with plans for this year’s summer cropping season as it continues to battle to clear outstanding payments for last season.
He said the ministry’s focus was on the recently floated US$55 million agro-bills. “We are still waiting to conclude the payment of grain produced last year. We cannot start preparing for the coming season when our farmers have not yet been paid for the work they did last season,” Mr Marapira said.