Nyemudzai Kakore Herald Correspondent
PREPARATIONS for the 2017-18 summer cropping season have intensified as 45 000 tonnes of maize seed and fertilisers are already being distributed to Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots across the country for onward transmission to intended beneficiaries, Government has said. Farmers are expected to start collecting the farming inputs next week. Government usually distributes 90 000 tonnes of basil fertiliser, 98 000 tonnes on top-dressing fertiliser, 18 000 tonnes of maize seed and soyabeans as well as 1 000 tonnes of sorghum seed through the Presidential Input Scheme.
At least 290 000 hectares will be put under Command Agriculture, of which 200 000 hectares will be dry land, while 90 000 hectares will be irrigated. A total of 60 000 hectares will be put under soyabeans. Speaking to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture and Irrigation Development led by Cde Christopher Chitindi on the state of preparedness for the forthcoming cropping season, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development secretary Mr Ringson Chitsiko said while foreign currency shortages were militating against the mobilisation of fertilisers two weeks ago, the problem has since been resolved.
“Let me say that the situation has been addressed to satisfaction. The necessary foreign currency required for our fertiliser manufactures and importers of other agro-chemicals have since started to be provided at levels that have since allayed fears that we could run into shortages of inputs for our summer cropping,” he said.
“Our seed maize requirement of up to 45 000 tonnes are in place as this particular product is produced in the country. Fertiliser supplies are being manufactured. We held meetings with the fertiliser companies where we received assurance that this is under control.” Agricultural Extension Services (Agritex) principal director Mr Joseph Gondo said at least 1,7 million hectares of maize is planted every year.
He said tobacco will cover 100 000 hectares, while 90 000 hectares have been reserved for soya beans. GMB acting general manager Mr Lawrence Jasi said as from October 5 this year, GMB had received over one million tonnes of maize, which is markedly higher than a year ago, with deliveries for the month of August alone topping 400 000 tonnes.
Mr Jasi disputed claims that the national granary was struggling with storage space, saying they have enough space to stock both the delivered grain as well as inputs for the upcoming season. “As from the 5th of October, we have mobilised 1,61 million tonnes of maize, and our current stock of maize now sits on 1,91 million tonnes. In terms of payments, we have since received $427 million to pay for the deliveries of maize and all cereals. The value of the crop that we have received so far is about $457 million. “We are getting the allocations of resources to pay farmers from Treasury through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on a weekly basis. This week, we should be able to get a total of $20 million. We should be able to clear paying all the farmers. On the issue of payments in terms of financial resource ability, it is not a challenge.”