The agricultural inputs distribution programme for this year is in full swing as Government moves to ensure that farmers receive necessary support on time for a successful farming season. Already, thousands of rural households in various districts have received input packages of cotton and maize under the Presidential Inputs Scheme.
The Presidential Inputs Scheme is being administered by The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe and The Grain Marketing Board.
In the previous years, most farmers failed to plant on time due to late distribution of inputs, resulting in poor yields. The cotton input supports programme is running for a fourth consecutive year, having started in 2015 /16 season. Since its launch, national cotton production has grown from 28 000 tonnes, the lowest since 1992. This year, output target of 100 000 tonnes has already been surpassed.
Last year, households, which were supported under the scheme more than doubled to 380 000 from 155 000 in the previous season. The Government is targeting 400 000 farmers this year.
The inputs being distributed to farmers include basal and top dressing fertilisers, planting seed as well as chemicals for cotton growers. Under the GMB inputs package, farmers are also receiving seeds for butternuts, rape, carrots and tomatoes as the Government seeks to enhance production of more nutritious foods. In regions with low rainfall patterns, farmers are encouraged to plant small grains.
Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrence Shiri, said contrary to claims that early distribution of inputs was meant to manipulate voters in the just-ended harmonised election, the Government wanted to ensure farmers received inputs on time.
The Minister, who has already launched the scheme in various districts continued with the programme last week.
“Ensuring food security in the country does not have anything to do with politics,” Minister Shiri said at a launch in Mutoko last week.
“I encourage those charged with distribution of the inputs to have a template which will ensure that every household receives inputs particularly for maize regardless of their political affiliation.”
Minister Shiri said the inputs support programme was meant to maintain a strong safety net for rural and communal families. He implored farmers to work closely with agricultural extension officers for good farming practice advice.
Minister Shiri said the GMB was in the process of setting up inputs distribution points to reach out to many farmers and cut transport costs.
Last week, the grain and cotton inputs programmes were also launched in Mudzi in Mashonaland East province and in Mvurwi and Mt Darwin in Mashonaland Central province.
Various launch programme have also been lined up in all provinces in the next few weeks.
“Our target is to ensure that you all have inputs by the end of September,” said Minister Shiri.
President of Federation of Farmers’ Union Mr Wonder Chabikwa, applauded the Government for timely distribution of the inputs, saying this would help farmers to plan.
“We hope that the programme is expedited so that the majority of the farmers receive inputs by the end of August,” he said.