Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Government is targeting to put 1,5 million hectares under maize during the 2019/ 20 summer cropping season, a senior official has said.
In an interview yesterday, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri said Government was targeting to produce around four million tonnes of maize.
He also said inputs for Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs scheme had been secured and beneficiaries were already receiving them in different parts of the country.
“We intend to establish 1,5 million hectares of maize and we are looking at a national average yield of three tonnes.
“If we get our timing right and good rains spread evenly throughout the season we should be able to get the three tonnes per hectare.
“ If that happens we will be talking of a region of four million tonnes,” he said.
He said distribution of inputs Command Agriculture was underway with fertiliser and seed companies also assisting.
This season Command Agriculture is being rolled out with support from banks.
“We have four banks that have come online to support Command Agriculture; Stanbic, Agribank CBZ and Women’s Bank. Agribank will be supporting seed houses and fertiliser companies, Women’s bank traditional grains, while Stanbic will be supporting contractors; companies which contract farmers to produce certain quantities of grain.
“The rest of Command Agriculture farmers will get their inputs from CBZ and the registration process and verification is underway,” he said.
Minister Shiri said CBZ through its co-operative partner Sakunda has started distributing inputs to the various parts of the country and that was being done in most cases by fertilisers and inputs companies.
“Where such facilities may not be available then Sakunda can move inputs to GMB depots and those farmers who have ben contracted have been advised of where they can go and collect their inputs,” he said.
Farmers have been complaining of the increasing costs of inputs calling on authorities to intervene. Government has continuously reviewed the maize producer price to ensure viability.
Silo Foods Industries reviewed maize and traditional crops producer price from $2 100 to $ 4 000 per tonne while Government increased wheat producer price from $1 089,68 per tonne to $8 612 08 per tonne, a move that is set to boost farmers’ preparations for the 2019-2020 summer cropping season.