Audrey Rundofa and Primrose Nyanzero
Urban farmers in Harare have taken advantage of the recent rains to intensify planting as the 2017 /2018 farming season gets into full swing, despite challenges in obtaining farming inputs whose prices were increased recently.
A survey by The Herald showed that farmers in Rugare, Kambuzuma, Belvedere and Sunningdale suburbs had started planting and some crops had already germinated.
Since the rainy season has started, most farmers say they want to use the early rains to plant their crops, but are facing input challenges. This has led to most of them resorting to using seeds from previous harvest, while others are buying from the informal sector. Some are also using organic fertiliser such as poultry manure or compost. Mr Sekai Bwanya of Belvedere, who farms maize, said he planted seed from the previous harvest and supplemented with some from the black market.
“I have started planting, but I do not have adequate inputs such as fertiliser. I am using seeds from the previous harvest and also some of the seeds which I bought for $1 a cup from a local stall, which I am not even sure if it is genuine seed,” she said. Mr Edison Jaravaza of Kambuzuma said that he was fortunate to be offered seeds by Pioneer Seed Company.
“I have already planted maize seed which I was offered by Pioneer Seed Company, but acquiring fertiliser remains a challenge because I do not have the funds to purchase some. We apply less fertilisers and sometimes supplement with compost manure. Money shortages are our biggest challenge,” he said. Rugare resident Mr Lazaro Moffat said, “This season we will not be able to afford fertilisers, so we applied dried tobacco leaves as manure.”
The farmers are expecting a good rainy season that will enhance their yields. Urban farming is integral to household food security and improving living conditions of people in the city and some households can grow enough maize that lasts them a whole year.