FARMING inputs will be released timeously to farmers as Government seeks to take advantage of the projected normal to above normal rains in the forthcoming rainy season to boost agricultural productivity, a Cabinet minister said.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube said there was everything to smile for after the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) predicted that Zimbabwe would receive normal to above normal rains in the 2021-22 rainy season.
The country and the rest of the Sadc region is expected to receive good rains in the coming season which starts next month.
The country received normal to above normal rains in the 2020-21 season leading to a bumper harvest, improving food security while reducing imports.
As a result, Zimbabwe saved at least US$300 million after it suspended the importation of grain.
“I’m smiling, sometimes when you are the Minister of Finance and there is a good rainy season you ought to smile because then it means there will be higher levels of productivity and production in the agricultural sector. There will be less to import that is what it really means for us. We are going to release the inputs on time to support our farmers for agriculture programmes,” said Prof Ncube.
“Two successive good seasons is a good thing and I look forward to that and we would be prepared for that. Trust me on providing inputs and any other farmer support schemes we need to lend.”
He said the projection will also enable Government to better prepare for future shocks.
“It means again we are going to have a bumper harvest and two bumper harvests in a row that will be really fabulous. That means we can risk manage any climate shocks at least in the next couple of years. If any come along, we would have enough reserves to absorb shocks such as a drought,” he said.
“And also ultimately though, we want to make sure that our dams begin to support our agriculture. So, investing in evacuating the water from the dams is really the way to go so that whether it rains or it doesn’t we are still able to irrigate and support our agriculture that is why I’m setting aside part of the resources from the Special Drawing Rights to support smallholder farmer irrigation so that we can have irrigation and climate proof their production activities.”
Government supports nearly 15 000 commercial farmers through command agriculture and over 2,8 million small holder farmers through the President Input Support Scheme.
The good rains in the 2020/21 season coupled with Government supportive programmes such as Pfumvudza/Intwasa, Presidential Input Scheme, National Enhanced Crop Productivity Scheme (Command Agriculture), Irrigation, the Livestock Growth Plan and Farm Mechanisation Programme contributed higher yields in the past season.
This resulted in the country producing 2,7 million tonnes of maize against 1,8 million tonnes cereal requirements per annum.
Farmers have been urged to start preparing for the summer agriculture season which starts next month.
Matabeleland North Provincial Agritex officer Mr Dumisani Nyoni said farmers should start clearing their fields while those employing the Intwasa climate farming method should start digging holes.
“Farmers should also look after their livestock that they are going to be using during the ploughing
period. They should ensure that their animals get supplementary feeding so that their animal drawn ploughing is not affected. This is also the time where we encourage villagers to wrap up other programmes so that they are not disrupted when the farming season starts. It’s the time to take stock of how they performed in the past season,” said Mr Nyoni.
He said those who benefited under the Presidential Input Scheme should also make sure that they deliver part of their grain at the Grain Marketing Board as per agreement.
“There was an agreement that those who benefited under the Presidential input scheme, would deliver part of their harvest to the GMB. But some of the farmers have not delivered their grain, so I would encourage them to make sure that they take advantage of this period to deliver the grain to GMB. Remember there was an agreement that they will plant in three plots and output from one of the plots will be delivered at GMB,” he said.
He said Government will also provide inputs for cotton farmers to boost the sector.