Elita chikwati–Senior Agriculture Reporter
Seed and fertiliser firms have ramped up production to meet demand for inputs for the forthcoming summer cropping season in State-assisted programmes and the commercial sector, with farmers urged to buy early to avoid a last-minute rush.
There is enough maize seed to plant 1,5 million hectares, the national target, plus seed for almost 1 million hectares of traditional grains, over 240 000ha of oil seed and 480 000ha of cotton.
Seed is already being moved to shops and depots near farmers.
Fertiliser producers have assured Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza that they will meet demand during the forthcoming season.
Farmers and the Government are determined to build on this year’s record harvests to increase crop production and productivity to meet and surpass requirements for human consumption and industrial use through full implementation of the key tenets of the Agriculture Recovery Plan.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka, in the state of preparedness report for next season, stated that 45 720 tonnes of certified maize seed was available inclusive of last season’s carry-over seed of 8 000 tonnes.
That is enough to cover the national target of 1 500 000 ha of maize.
“Seed enough to plant a total national hectarage of 972 000 hectares for various traditional grains and legumes (sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet and African peas) is available for the 2021-22 cropping season. Furthermore, there is certified seed enough to plant an equivalent of 122 000ha soya beans, 121 000ha sunflower and 480 000 ha cotton.
Some seed for soya bean and sugar bean will be imported to augment supplies, he said.
Dr Masuka said the seed industry also had seed of forage grasses such as katambora grass and legumes (velvet bean, sunhemp, lablab) and a wide range of horticultural crops, which would support Government’s livestock improvement programme and horticulture development.
The Zimbabwe Seed Association said its members were ready for the season.
“We should also be able to supply certified seed of the small grains like sorghum, legumes like beans, cowpeas and oilseeds like soyabean and other crops like cotton and tobacco.
“For the major crops where demand is known or easy to predict we should have adequate seed to meet national requirements should we have good planting rains We urge farmers or institutions to get their seed in time,” said the association. Most of the seed will be distributed through Government-sponsored inputs programmes.
“Seed companies have arrangements or facilities with various distributors. These distributors may have arrangements with farmers unions or clubs.
“Farmers who need credit facilities to buy inputs including seed can get it from banks like Agribank, CBZ among others from Command Agriculture or from those contracting companies like Delta, National Foods.
“The ZSA encourages the farming community to buy good quality seed of improved varieties on time. With certified seed they will be guaranteed of good germination, good seed health, clean seed,” said the industry.
Dr Nzenza said as by last Friday, the fertiliser industry had 264 000 tonnes of raw materials that would produce 187 000 tonnes of nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium compounds and blends and 77 000 tonnes of urea and ammonium nitrate for the pure nitrogenous fertiliser top-dressing.
The planned production from August to December is 375 000 tonnes of NPK fertiliser and 26 000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate while 200 000 tonnes of top dressing will be imported.
For the season Dorowa and ZimPhos will produce phosphates that will translate into a three-fold rise in Compound D output to 75 000 tonnes.
Similar capacity enhancement project is underway for increased local production of ammonium nitrate at Sable Chemical Industries from current 50 000 tonnes to over 150 000 tonnes.
“It is helpful if farmers and all the major schemes supported by the Government to begin buying, collecting and paying for their requirements of fertilisers well before the rains,” said Dr Nzenza.
“This will avoid the problematic bunching that leads to excessive pressure on the industry and short-term stock outs associated with the supply chain failing to cope with huge instant demand. Early off-take by the market also improves the industry’s ability to meet demand through working capital replenishment and reducing the maximum level of cash that has to be tied up in stocks,” she said.