2,4 million ha under cropping, bulk in good condition

25 Jan, 2022 - 00:01 0 Views
2,4 million ha under cropping, bulk in good condition

The Herald

Elita Chikwati  Senior Agriculture Reporter 

Farmers have put more than 2,4 million hectares under cropping with most of the plants in many areas in good condition. 

There had been a break of rains in most areas giving farmers the opportunity to weed, replant and apply fertilisers and herbicides. 

In some areas leaching has affected crops and farmers are top dressing the affected crops. 

Experts have advised farmers to split apply the top dressing and also to use urea in waterlogged areas. 

The Agritex crop update indicates that by Friday last week, 1 563 198 hectares had been planted to maize registering a decline of 6 percent from the 1 658 634ha that had been planted during the same period last year. 

The area put under sorghum declined by six percent from 259 819 ha last year to 243 254ha this season. 

Farmers have planted 146 275 ha of pearl millet an increase of 5 percent from the 138 781ha last year while 44 897 ha of soyabean have been planted compared to 48 934 last season. 

Farmers planted 8 509 ha of sunflower compared to 12 103 last year while an increase of 16 percent was registered on the area planted to groundnuts from 196 123 ha last season to 227 835 this year. 

The area under cowpeas also increased by 17 percent from 35 640 ha to 41 780ha. Cotton hectarage has increased by five percent from 158 276ha to 166 902 ha and tobacco hectarage declined by one percent from 106 494ha to 105 613ha. 

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union president, Dr Shadreck Makombe, yesterday said most crops are in good condition though the hectarage declined in some areas when comparing out the same period last year. 

“Farmers are happy with the break of the rains but they should be on the lookout for fall armyworm which normally causes havoc during this period. 

“We urge farmers to notify relevant authorities so that they are given the chemicals to fight the pest early. We are encouraging use of herbicides. Farmers can also mechanically weed,” he said. 

Dr Makombe discouraged farmers from planting major crops as the planting window was over. 

“Cereals are in good condition good. Leaching and waterlogging has gone done in some areas. Farmers in waterlogged areas should dig trenches so that the water is drained,” he said. 

Agriculture expert, Mr Ivan Craig said there were two scenarios where some areas were dry while others were wet. 

“To those farmers in dry areas, let us take an opportunity to make sure we weed our fields because they will die completely unlike in wet areas where the weeds can recover as conditions will be conducive. 

“Weeds harbour pests and diseases which can be transmitted to crops and compromise yield and quality. Weeds also compete with crops for sunlight, nutrients, moisture and air and that can compromise yields. 

“Farmers affected by leaching should apply top dressing (slit application). Farmers should not apply fertiliser levels above what would have been recommend. This is the time for farmers to plant sugarbeans and sunflower,” he said. 

The 2021/22 summer cropping programme will be funded through public, private, development partners’ support and Public Private Partnership arrangements. Government will finance the Presidential crop and livestock input schemes through Treasury and provide Government guarantees for Government programmes funded through AFC and CBZ. 

Crops outside Government funded programmes being supported from private contractors, farmers own resources and development partners. 

In line with the National Development Strategy 1 underpinning tenets, value chain financing models through contract farming is a smart and sustainable way to support growing and off-take of strategic crops.

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