– 1,4m households receive allocations
– Farmers cheer unprecedented preps
Sunday Mail Correspondent
Government is closing in on its target to finish distributing agricultural inputs under the Climate-Proofed Presidential Inputs Scheme for the 2020/2021 summer cropping season by next week.
1,4 million households have since received their allocations.
The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) will this week expedite distributions to the outstanding 400 000 households.
Over 1,8 million farmers, who were trained under the Pfumvudza Conservation Agriculture Programme, will receive an inputs package of maize, traditional grains, soya seed and fertilisers. By Friday, 9 261 tonnes of seed had been handed over to farmers, with maize seed accounting for 7 463 tonnes, while 1 120 tonnes of soya seed had been distributed, with traditional grains seed making up the rest.
In addition, 74 606 tonnes of fertiliser, including 48 770 tonnes of Compound D, 13 153 tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate and 12 683 tonnes of lime, had been released to farmers.
Agricultural Technical and Extension Services (Agritex) acting director Mr Stancilae Tapererwa said training of farmers was being finalised, with 1,4 million households having completed training as of last week.
“Preparations for the coming season are at an advanced stage,” said Mr Tapererwa.
“Our target is to train 1,8 million households under the Pfumvudza scheme. As of last week, we had trained 1,4 million households and these are the farmers who have received inputs.”
However, inadequate manpower at Agritex had slowed training of farmers in the Matabeleland provinces.
“We might be pulled back by Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South as they are facing staff shortages, but that is being attended to,” he said.
Farmers are expected to complete planting by the third week of December. It is forecast that most parts of the country would have received rains by then.
“Those without irrigation should plant with the rains, while we expect those with irrigation to have started already,” said Mr Tapererwa.
Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) executive director Mr Paul Zakariya said this year’s preparations, which kicked off in April, were unprecedented.
“Government’s efforts towards agricultural recovery are well appreciated,” said Mr Zakariya.
“Preparations for this season in the smallholder sector started way back in April/May with the mobilisation of farmers for the Climate-Proofed Pfumvudza Programme.
“We understand that distribution of inputs is still in progress to cover the remaining households.
“The ZFU is encouraging its members under this category to take full advantage of this promising season.”
Climate-proofed agriculture is premised on guaranteeing harvests despite seasonal rainfall patterns. It is meant to promote both household food security and material sustenance.
This year, farmers are most likely to get guidance from extension workers, some of whom have been resourced to allow them to meaningfully engage with the farmers.
Government is targeting over 3,6 million tonnes of maize from 1,5 million hectares.
The region, Zimbabwe included, is forecast to receive normal to above-normal rains starting sometime this week.
In Mashonaland Central, over 131 000 households out of the targeted 220 000 have taken delivery of their inputs, according to the acting provincial Agritex officer Mr Musekiwa Murisa.
Over 70 000 hectares will be put under maize in the province, which is considered to be the country’s bread-basket.
Output is expected to top 350 000 tonnes.
About 38 149 hectares have already been cleared for planting.
Mr Murisa said about 513 tonnes of seed is awaiting distribution at GMB depots across the province.
“Uptake of the programme by farmers is overwhelming,” he said.
“Under the Pfumvudza programme, farmers are required to complete holing their fields first, after which Agritex officers will verify their compliance before they can receive inputs.”
Farmers, he added, should follow standard principles of Pfumvudza to get maximum yield.
“Our extension officers are expected to monitor farmers regularly, now that they are capacitated and mobile.”
In Mashonaland West province, over 280 000 out of the targeted 325 000 households had completed land preparations as of last week.
Mashonaland West Agritex agronomist Ms Siyena Makaza said the distribution of inputs was ongoing.
“Households that successfully prepared their land for Pfumvudza are currently receiving inputs,” said Ms Makaza.
Government’s medium to long-term plan is to eliminate food imports and diversify exports in order to support economic recovery and growth.
Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka recently told The Sunday Mail that the country spends an estimated US$800 million annually to import cereals.
This year, farmers have the added incentive of a stabilising economy that is expected to guarantee meaningful returns for harvests.