Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Farmers contracted under the Government’s specialised import substitute maize (Command Agriculture) have started planting with others intensifying land preparations.
A survey of provinces has shown that all the farmers who have planted have irrigation facilities, while dryland farmers were either collecting inputs or finalising land preparations.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made, confirmed that farmers had started planting.
“Most farmers have finished harvesting wheat and intensification of planting of maize is underway. We are also anticipating rains so even those under dryland can start planting. There is general progress and most farmers who had wheat have since cleared their fields,” he said.
In Mashonaland Central, farmers have so far planted 380 hectares of maize and part of the crop has germinated and is at three leaf stage.
Mashonaland Central provincial agritex officer, Mr Stancilae Tapererwa, told The Herald that planting was underway.
“Farmers with an irrigated crop are planting and some whose crop has germinated are waiting for herbicides. Those with a dryland crop are yet to start planting,” he said.
In Matabeleland North 200 hectares of maize have been planted as farmers wait for seed.
Matabeleland South agritex officer, Mr Judiya Ncube, said farmers were still collecting inputs and putting last touches to their land preparations.
He said farmers were relying on More Food for Africa Brazil tractors and some were having challenges as they had to pay upfront before they could sue the tillage facilities.
“Farmers are currently concentrating on land preparations. They are sourcing tillage equipment on their own and some cannot rely on Brazil More Food for Africa programme as cash is needed upfront,” he said.
In Midlands farmers with irrigation facilities have started planting.
Midlands provincial agritex officer, Mr Peter Chamisa, said farmers started planting three weeks ago and the early planted crop had since germinated.
“Planting is picking momentum. Most farmers with irrigation are planting while those on dryland are waiting for inputs,” he said.
In Manicaland planting of the irrigated crop started a fortnight ago.
The provincial agritex officer, Mr Godfrey Mamhare, could not give the exact hectarage that had been planted so far.
“Inputs were a bit delayed but I can confirm that planting is underway,” he said.
Government has committed 400 000 hectares to be put under maize and expected to produce about two million tonnes for national food security.
The import substitution maize production programme targets both A1 and A2 farmers as well as Government institutional farms, particularly those near water bodies. Farmers will be provided with seed, herbicides and fertilisers among other inputs.
Command agriculture is soon expected to include livestock production.