Farmers who are still planting have been urged to consider short season varieties as the planting window for long season varieties has passed.
The bulk of the summer crops are in good condition although incessant rains being received in most parts of the country have resulted in weed pressure as farmers cannot spray herbicides or weed. Most of the crop now requires top dressing fertiliser, which farmers said is not readily available, especially for those under Command Agriculture.
There are fears that if the challenge continues, yields could be compromised, although the situation could be turned around if AN and urea supplies were increased.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union director Mr Paul Zakariya said the crop was good with the bulk of it now at vegetative stage. The early planted crop is at reproductive stage.
“The activities carried out included planting, weeding and fertiliser application. In some areas, the continuous wet spell made the weeding and fertiliser application difficult to carry out. Leaching is being reported in tobacco growing areas like Macheke.
“We have some delays with Command (Agriculture) inputs distribution and we have received reports that the issue has been addressed and farmers should collect the outstanding items at their nearest collection points,” he said.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president, Mr Shadreck Makombe, said the crops were generally in good condition although there was weed pressure.
“We encourage farmers to continue planting, especially those in warm areas. We do not encourage long season varieties. This is the time to also plant sugar beans and cow peas,” he said.
Mr Makombe also advised farmers to continue with water harvesting techniques so that crops will not wilt during dry periods.
“The bulk of the crop requires top dressing and it is in high demand. We urge authorities to be forthright when it comes to the supply of the commodity. We are in lockdown and it is not easy for farmers to move up and down checking for fertilisers.
“The situation would improve if we are told when we will receive the fertilisers. We have other farming operations to attend to. If we could get even urea, our crop will perform well,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Farmers Union vice president Mr Edward Dune confirmed that fertiliser shortage was the major challenge for farmers.
“Farmers under Command Agriculture are experiencing challenges securing top dressing fertilisers. We are failing to weed because of the incessant rains. Weed pressure and shortage of fertiliser can compromise yields,” he said. Fertiliser industry spokesperson, Mr Tapiwa Mashingaidze, yesterday said some companies were facing challenges of foreign currency to access the top dressing fertiliser. “The shortage could also be as a result of distribution challenges and increase in demand as the bulk of the crops now require top dressing fertiliser,” he said.