Farmers have planted 1,4 million hectares of maize, representing a 137 percent rise in the area planted compared to the same period last year, mainly attributed to good rainfall forecast and early distribution of inputs.
The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement is expected to embark on the first round crop and livestock assessment mid this month.
This season, the area under maize is expected to surpass the targeted 1,5 million hectares as farmers are still encouraged to plant short season varieties. Last year, farmers had planted 612 406 hectares of maize by now.
Permanent Secretary for Agriculture Dr John Basera confirmed on Monday that the area put under maize was 97 percent of the targeted hectarage.
He attributed the development to early inputs distribution, especially under the Presidential Inputs programmes, training of farmers, empowerment and capacitation of extension workers and robust monitoring and evaluation as dictated by the Agricultural Recovery Plan.
“The increase in the area under maize is a result of good rains, and the early inputs distribution. We distributed 100 percent seed under Government support programmes and we are almost 80 percent on distribution of fertilizer. The ministry will expedite top dressing distribution.
“There was also early general preparedness. Capacitation of extension staff through increased mobility and appropriate training for effective technical backstopping and coaching of farmers in light of Good Agricultural Practices also helped, thanks to His Excellency President Mnangagwa who mobilised 5 000 motorcycles for extension staff,” he said.
Dr Basera said robust monitoring and evaluation from the top level and by directors and chief directors also had an impact in the increase in production.
“We have dispatched teams led by the Minister (of Agriculture Dr Anxious Masuka) and these have been assessing on the ground, which is a departure from the norms. Each extension worker had a target of 350 households from smallholder farmers and five extension visits per day to A2 farmers.
“The ministry is also investing in personal protective equipment (PPEs) for extension workers. The procurement process for the digital technologies such as tablets is underway. These will go a long way in terms of data collection. The data will be used for Agricultural Information Management System(AIMS),” he said.
Farmers unions have also applauded Government for the improvement in inputs distribution during the 2020/21 summer cropping season.
For the first time in many years, Government supported summer cropping programmes on time for the season.