DESPITE playing the balancing act between fighting Covid-19 and saving the economy from taking further battering from the pandemic, the Government has managed to get preparations for the 2020/21 farming season underway with inputs distribution under the Presidential Input Scheme expected to start in the coming weeks.
This was revealed by the Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Vangelis Haritatos on Thursday while responding to questions in the Senate. He said despite the disturbances caused by the Covid-19 induced lockdown, the Government had already started preparing for the summer cropping season.
Deputy Minister Haritatos added that this year the winter wheat programme had benefited from the uninterrupted electricity supplies.
Responding to a question by Senator Sikhanyisiwe Mpofu, Deputy Minister Haritatos said preparations for the cropping season started in April.
“I am happy to inform you that preparations for the new farming season started as far back as April 2020. You will note that despite the lockdown disturbances, we have caught up and we are ready for the new farming season, which is approaching us. Right now, as we speak, inputs under the Presidential Input Scheme have been procured and should start being delivered to the provinces next month. Command Agriculture now falls under financial institutions,” said the Deputy Minister.
He said there were many Government programmes aimed at assisting farmers, for instance, the availing of farming equipment as well as fuel for land preparations and other operations.
“With regards to the Hon Senator’s question on the tractors for tillage, you will note that we have the John Deere facility, which was launched not so long ago and we have the upcoming Belarusian facility next month that will be launched by His Excellency. We are fairly confident that these two programmes will certainly have a great impact on the agricultural sector at large,” he said.
The Deputy Minister said the Government was working to ensure that there is electricity to improve yields.
The winter wheat programme, he said, had gone on well with Zesa providing uninterrupted supply to farmers across the country.
“On the last question with regards to the Ministry of Energy, I would like to thank them for coming on board this season. Under wheat they have certainly lifted our hopes. You will notice from the season that considerable amount of hectarage is under wheat because we have had guaranteed supply of electricity,” said Deputy Minister Haritatos.
“With regards to fuel, certainly fuel has been a major issue for everyone and it is an on-going discussion with the Ministry of Energy. Unfortunately as you know fuel is an import and requires foreign currency and going forward we will continue talking with our colleagues from the Ministry of Energy,” he said.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union vice president Edward Raradza welcomed the development and appealed to Government to return farmers unions levy to enable them to work with Agritex in educating farmers.
“We used to export to Zambia and other countries but as of now we are the ones importing, meaning there is something that went wrong.
When inputs are distributed early there is need to make sure we integrate Agritex and farmers unions to monitor the utilisation of the inputs,” he said.