Conrad Mupesa in Mhangura
Farmers in Makonde and Hurungwe districts have expressed relief after the areas received some rains following weeks of scorching heat that was threatening their crops.
The farmers took advantage of the rains to apply top dressing fertilisers to their crops. In various interviews, the farmers said they had delayed applying ammonium nitrate in their fields because of the dry spell.
“The majority of our maize crop has already passed the stage of first top dressing, but we will apply the fertiliser than neglect the crop,” said Mr Richford Maturike from Kismeti area in Mhangura. The farmers noted that the dry spell had also afforded them a chance to deal with the fall armyworm.There were various reports of the armyworm across the district.
“The armyworm had attacked fields in most areas including Hurungwe district,” an Agritex officer said. “It is, however, unfortunate that most farmers are failing to access proper insecticides to deal with the pests due to high prices of chemicals.” Mr Tozivepi Dzenge of Hailwin Farm in Karoi urged Government to avail affordable insecticides to control the pest.
“Although we faced armyworm attack and are failing to access insecticides due to exorbitant prices, we are hopeful that the rains that we are currently receiving will help the crops,” he said. Prominent Mhangura farmer Mr Richard Jenami encouraged farmers to use Decis forte mixed with DDVP and chloripiritos to deal with the armyworm.
“The farmers should also seek agronomist or Agritex officers’ assistance as soon as they notice signs of armyworm,” he said.
Meanwhile, some cotton farmers in Mashonaland West province have been reportedly abusing inputs distributed under the Presidential Input Support Scheme. According to Cotton Company of Zimbabwe Chinhoyi depot manager Mr George Kata, farmers in various parts of Mashonaland West including Mhangura, Makonde and Hurungwe, grossly misused inputs meant to boost production this year.
“We are currently undertaking an assessment programme to ascertain the number of farmers who misused the inputs and those who did not utilise them.,” he said.
“At the moment, we are still compiling the figures with the help of area chairmen and we hope to have finished the exercise by the end of this week (last week). Investigations in some parts of Mhangura including areas such as Takoma, Mhangura Central and Richmond revealed that some farmers did not use their the Presidential Input Support Scheme inputs.” Mr Kata said the farmers reasoned that there was no need to rush since the inputs were for free.
“The Presidential Input Support Scheme for cotton farmers is an initiative that supports them with inputs so that they sell their input to Government through Cottco,” he said.
Mr Kata said there were some farmers who used the inputs in their tobacco fields. He said that Cottco would soon engage law enforcement agents once their investigations were complete. Zimbabwe Cotton Growers and Marketers Association chairman Mr Stewart Mubonderi said police in Mashonaland Central arrested some farmers and Cottco officials for selling the inputs.
“Police arrested the officials and farmers whose inputs were being sold at Guruve Centre, Mudhindo and Mvurwi,” he said. There are also fears that the projected yield of 400 000 metric tonnes of the “white gold” would not be reached due to such abuses of the input scheme. Cottco and Zimbabwe Cotton Growers and Marketers Association are targeting more than 250 000 metric tonnes this year.
A minimum of one hectare package which includes 20kg of seed, two 50kg bags of Compound L fertilizer, one 50kg bag of Ammonium Nitrate and pesticides were distributed to farmers under the scheme.