Source: Govt needs $1,5bn for 2016-17 season | The Herald September 12, 2016
Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter—
Government requires $1,5 billion to finance 2,25 million hectares of crop production including 400 000ha earmarked for command agriculture as preparations for the 2016/17 summer season get underway. In partnership with development partners, Government also targets to capacitate 800 000 vulnerable households with agriculture inputs to plant 0,4 ha each with maize or small grains during the forthcoming season.
Presenting the 2016 Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review last week, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said preparations for the forthcoming summer cropping season were already underway and Government was co-ordinating with the private sector to mobilise funding.
He said intervention programmes benefitting livestock were also in place, and estimated to require some $500 million. Cde Chinamasa emphasised on the special maize production programme (command agriculture) targeting 400 000 hectares and aimed at producing two million tonnes to meet national requirements.
Of the 400 000 hectares to be put under maize production under the command agriculture programme, 264 000 hectares is dry land, while 136 000 hectares is irrigable. The import substitution maize production programme targets both A1 and A2 farmers as well as Government institutional farms, particularly those near water bodies.
To date more than 310 000 hectares of land has been identified, of which over 105 000 hectares is irrigable land, while over 204 000 hectares is dry land. Farmers are signing performance contracts, initially for three consecutive growing seasons, starting with the 2016-17 summer season, and will receive support covering maize seed, fertilizers and tillage.
The programme is costs approximately $516 million for the initial three years, and key expenditures relate to inputs and labour, including harvesting costs, land preparation and transport expenses.
“Of this targeted hectarage, 264 000 hectares is dry land, while 136 000 hectares is irrigable. The programme will cost approximately $516 million for the initial three years, and key expenditures relate to inputs and labour, including harvesting costs, land preparation.
“Government is engaging the banking and private sector to mobilise the respective resources to support farmers under this programme, on a cost-recovery basis,” he said. Already, $85 million has been availed for the programme and is being coordinated through the Office of the President and Cabinet. Government is also making interventions to assist the vulnerable households during the 2016-17 season.
“In line with our Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy, household food security interventions also target support towards vulnerable households with inputs. “The inputs support programme, comprising of 10kg of maize or 5kg of small grains, 50kg each of compound D and ammonium nitrate, is estimated to cost about $61,6 million,” he said.
Smallholder cotton growers will also receive inputs to support 350 000ha under a supervised cotton production programme. The programme is estimated to cost $36 million to finance the procurement of fertilisers, chemicals and cotton seed.
In addition, Government will capacitate A1 and communal farmers participating under the More Food Africa programme as well as Government institutional farms to meaningfully contribute towards food security, through provision of agriculture inputs targeting to increase the yield per hectare.
The objective is to support transformation of A1 participating farmers to become commercial farmers. “The inputs support programme will comprise of 25kg maize seed, 300kg of compound D and 300kg of ammonium nitrate, as well as respective agro-chemicals per ha, and this is estimated to cost a total of $403 per ha.
“This translates to $15,4 million to support the 38 000ha under both the More Food Africa Programme and institutional farms,” he said. With regards to other cropping programmes such as tobacco, cotton, livestock, among others, the banking sector,has indicated readiness to extend above $1 billion in support of such programmes.
This is also being complemented by contract farming arrangements and own resources. Most farmers are optimistic of the 2016/17 cropping season following a prediction by weather experts of a normal to above normal rainfall.