Fungai Lupande Mash Central Bureau
THE Presidential Inputs Scheme has this year been launched earlier than in previous years to allow smallholder farmers ample time to prepare for the 2018/ 2019 season.
The scheme was launched on Wednesday at Supa Township in Musana, Bindura by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Retired Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri (Retired).
The programme is targeting 1,8 million smallholder farmers countrywide and vegetables such as cabbages, carrots and rape have also been included in the scheme.
Minister Shiri said the programme was also extended to cotton, targeting 400 000 smallholder farmers to support the production of cotton in the dry agro-ecological region of the county.
“Early distribution of inputs shows our Government’s commitment to support farmers by availing critical production inputs that will result in increased productivity.
“This also gives time to mobilise and distribute the much-needed inputs before the start of the rainy season,” Minister Shiri said.
“With this early start of the programme, we hope to complete inputs distribution by end of September this year.
“We want our farmers to start planting with the first effective rains.
“It is important that the inputs are used properly for us to achieve the desired benefits.
“Agritex staff is expected to provide training to farmers and carry out demonstration before the season starts.
“The farmer training programme should be an ongoing activity throughout the season,” Minister Shiri said.
He said demonstrations should be established at appropriate sites.
“Meetings and discussions should be the norm, but these should not replace individual farm visits.”
Minister Shiri advised farmers against selling the inputs, saying those caught on the wrong side of the law would be prosecuted.
“We hope farmers will provide secure and appropriate storage, especially for the seed.
“We don’t expect to see any of the inputs on the market.
“Those caught selling the inputs will be dealt with,” he said.
“Agricultural productivity is still a challenge and non-adherence to agriculture practices has been identified as a key contributory factor to low productivity.
“The issue of climate change and climate variability also has serious impact on productivity and Government is working on a number of initiatives, which include irrigation rehabilitation and development.
“The Presidential Inputs Scheme is complementary to Command Agriculture.
“The Presidential Inputs Scheme is meant to enable smallholder farmers to become food secure as well as address nutritional requirements at household level by availing critical inputs.
“The input pack for household food production will provide 10kg seed maize, 5kg sorghum seed 50kg basal fertiliser (Compound D) and 50kg top dressing fertiliser.
“In addition, farmers will receive 10kg soya beans. Other inputs include sugar beans and cowpeas meant to address nutritional needs at household level.
“The cotton input package will comprise 20kg seed, two bags of basal fertiliser, Compound L and one bag of top dressing (fertiliser).
“This package will also come with agro-chemicals for pest control.”