Farmers are intensifying preparations for the next summer cropping season and want authorities to ensure inputs are accessible in time just as the last season which produced record harvests.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU)director Mr Paul Zakariya said preparations in the smallholder sector have started in earnest, with liming and the establishment of planting stations underway.
“We encourage distribution of all inputs under support programmes to begin such that inputs are where they are supposed to be well ahead of time,” he said.
But he was concerned over delays in payments for the delivered harvests, although the GMB yesterday said payments started after the Heroes and Defence Forces Holidays and expect all farmers to be paid very soon.
“Of concern, however, are the delayed payments for delivered produce both grains and cotton, said Mr Zakariya. Ordinarily, farmers buy all the necessary requirements for the summer season out of the proceeds of the previous season.
“Delayed payments directly affect preparations for the upcoming season.”
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Dr Shadreck Makombe said preparations had intensified and those who are self-financed were procuring inputs.
Some farmers were continuing with winter ploughing to conserve moisture while others on the climate-proofed inputs programme, commonly known as Pfumvudza/ Intwasa, were making planting stations.
“Some Pfumvudza farmers are training fellows on the technique. Many farmers who had not taken up the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme last season were inspired by high yields and are now under training from fellow farmers while on the other hand, extension officers are also educating farmers.
“We are impressed by the initiative of farmers. Some are sharing manure and crop residues for use as mulch.
“On the issue of inputs, consultations are underway and we have been engaged by suppliers. We hope all will be in place soon,” he said.
Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust president Mrs Depinah said farmers had started preparations but also urged authorities to ensure the GMB speeds up payments so farmers can producer inputs on time.
“Farmers buy inputs as they get paid their money. We have been experiencing challenges of delays in payments and this affects preparations,” she said.
On Monday, GMB chief executive Mr Rockie Mutenha assured farmers that they were getting their money.
He said GMB had received money and started paying farmers soon after the Heroes and Defence Forces holidays. All farmers are expected to received their payment soon.
The Government has set a target of 2,8 million hectares of maize and traditional grains during the coming summer cropping season.
The strategic objective for the upcoming cropping season is to sustainably increase crop production and productivity to meet and surpass the national requirements for both human consumption and industrial use, through religious implementation of the key tenets of the Agriculture Recovery Plan anchored on conservation agriculture principles to climate-proof the Presidential Input Scheme, provision of inputs and constant supply of key utilities such as power and fuel to farmers.
Emphasis will also be on crowding-in the private and financial services sectors, ensuring access to appropriate finance for inputs and working capital and continuous support for targeted farmers with irrigation and mechanisation services to improve efficiencies and capacitating extension and advisory services.