Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
ZIMBABWE will have enough maize seed for the 2016/ 17 farming season despite the drought that affected the bulk of the crop planted this season, a senior Government official has said. Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Permanent Secretary Mr Ringson Chitsiko said this at a recent multi-sector consultative meeting. He said the country was expecting 42 000 tonnes of maize seed, which is enough for the next farming season.
“A projected 42 000 tonnes of maize seed is expected this season, which is in line with the national requirement despite the prevailing drought. “There are huge stocks of fertilisers held by the local fertiliser industry,” he said.
Mr Chitsiko said there was need to mobilise resources to support farmers during the 2016-17 cropping season following two consecutive poor seasons. He said there was also need to enhance irrigation development in view of limitations highlighted by the past two farming seasons.
Mr Chitsiko said Government is working on the Zimbabwe-Brazil irrigation programmes where 67 projects are expected to be completed within four months and the installation expected to cost $2 million.
“With regards to the ongoing Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) projects, a total of 12 projects with a total of 10 000 hectares can be completed within a period of six months at a total cost of $4,4 million.
“Under the PSIP Drought Emergency Projects, a total of 15 projects with total of 500 hectares can be completed within a period of six months at a total of $1 100 000 to finance the rehabilitation. “The smallholder irrigation programme is being implemented in collaboration with FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation).
“The target is to commission 550 ha by June and 1 200 hectares by December 2016,” he said. Mr Chitsiko raised concern over the limited resources to kick-start and expand the current emergency response efforts.
The 2015-16 summer cropping season was affected by drought and a decline of 49 percent was recorded in maize production while tobacco production also fell by 20 per- cent. Agriculture experts have called for a shift from relying on rain-fed agriculture to irrigation.