Farmers put 2,5 million hectares under cropping

Source: Farmers put 2,5 million hectares under cropping | The Herald

Farmers put 2,5 million hectares under cropping
Maize crop

Elita Chikwati

Senior Agriculture Reporter 

FARMERS have so far planted 78 percent of the targeted maize hectarage as the total area under cropping has increased to more than 2,5 million hectares.

The condition of most crops is satisfactory although heavy rains have caused waterlogging and leaching in most areas.

The planting window for major summer crops is over. However, farmers have continued planting sweet potatoes, sunflower, and sugar beans whose window period is still open.

Agritex is encouraging the planting of these crops to ensure food and nutrition security. According to the Agritex latest statistics, farmers have planted 1 563 200 hectares of maize countrywide, with the bulk of the crop, 1 248 490 hectares grown by self-financed farmers.

Under the CBZ Agroyield, farmers planted 60 970 while 253 740 ha were planted under Pfumvudza/Intwasa.

Midlands is topping the list after planting 275 779ha of maize, while Mashonaland West planted 273 064ha.

Manicaland planted 253 681ha, Masvingo 200 072ha, Mashonaland East 185 813ha, Mashonaland Central 177 023ha, and Matabeleland North 103 661ha.

Matabeleland South planted 85 290ha while Harare and Bulawayo planted 8 296ha and 520ha of maize, respectively.

Farmers have also planted 44 894ha of soya beans, sorghum 243 254ha, pearl millet 147 607ha, and sunflower 9 376ha.

A total of 227 835ha of groundnuts, 166 902ha cotton, 107 741ha tobacco, and 41 780ha cowpeas have been planted.

Agritex principal agronomist ,Mrs Rutendo Nhongonhema, yesterday said the heavy rains had resulted in leaching and waterlogging and this could affect crops.

“Farmers should repair contour ridges in their fields so crops are not destroyed. Farmers should also remove irrigation infrastructure in the riverbeds and along dams. Mulching in Pfumvudza is critical to reducing runoff.

“Those in horticulture should re-ridge to improve drainage through raised beds. Strong winds can be damaging to plants. Farmers should consider trellising especially on crops such as tomatoes,” she said.

Mrs Nhongonhema advised farmers to come up with fungicidal spray programmes using appropriate chemicals as rains are associated with diseases.

“Excessive rains result in leaching and farmers should now be applying top dressing fertiliser per crop as per requirement.

“We also encourage farmers to pay attention to weather reports and advisories and to follow advice from the Department of Civil Protection. Evacuate when told to do so,” she said.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union executive secretary, Mr Paul Zakariya said weed infestation had become a challenge in most farming areas.

“Because of heavy rains, herbicides are washed away. There is competition between crops and weeds. Top dressing fertiliser is also in short supply and retailers are charging exorbitant prices around US$$50 and US$60,” he said.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Dr Shadreck Makombe said urea and ammonium nitrate were now expensive.

“Some middlemen are taking advantage of the situation and are now hoarding the commodity for resale at exorbitant prices.

“We encourage farmers to continue planting sugar beans, sunflower and sweet potatoes even at large scale commercially,” he said.

Plant Protection Research Institute entomologist, Mr Shingirayi Nyamutukwa urged farmers to scout for fall armyworms and report to authorities for early control.

“Farmers are encouraged therefore to collect samples of the pest for confirmation as they report to their nearest Agritex officers, Plant Protection Research and Plant Quarantine Services Institute staff in their areas for assistance.

“Farmers in areas around Muzarabani like Machaya, Utete and Dambakurima should frequently scout for the pest and once they see the pest, collect chemicals at the Plant Protection Research Institute office at Muzarabani Growth Point.

“The current heavy rains being experienced have a control effect on the African armyworms as they can be drowned and killed since they feed while exposed,” he said.

Mr Nyamutukwa discouraged farmers from spraying Carbarly in pastures as milk from livestock may be tainted with pesticide residues.