Let’s pre­pare well for sum­mer crop­ping sea­son

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

THE in­gre­di­ents are all there for a suc­cess­ful 2016-17 agri­cul­tural sea­son but farm­ers need to start pre­par­ing now so that they are not found want­ing when the time to plant their crops ar­rives. The Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Ser­vices Depart­ment has fore­cast a nor­mal to above nor­mal rain­fall sea­son with the rains al­ready hav­ing started lash­ing parts of the coun­try.

While the MSD has cau­tioned against early plant­ing, say­ing the cur­rent rains do not sig­nal the start of the rainy sea­son, farm­ers should en­sure they have the nec­es­sary in­puts and machin­ery to till the land. They should also get their fields ready for plant­ing bear­ing in mind that the sea­son is likely to be wet and long.

The Govern­ment has al­ready se­cured $503 mil­lion for in­puts, some of which are al­ready on the ground as it in­ten­si­fies prepa­ra­tions to en­sure farm­ers are ad­e­quately equipped for the farm­ing sea­son. The in­puts will boost the re­cently an­nounced Com­mand Agri­cul­ture Pro­gramme that is tar­geted at pro­duc­ing more than two mil­lion tonnes of maize and the Pres­i­den­tial In­puts Sup­port Scheme that mainly as­sists vul­ner­a­ble ru­ral and small scale farm­ers.

It is pro­jected that by Oc­to­ber 15, 2016, most of the farm­ing in­puts un­der Govern­ment’s Com­mand Agri­cul­ture project should have reached all the tar­geted ben­e­fi­cia­ries. Vice Pres­i­dent Emmerson Mnan­gagwa, who chairs the Cabi­net Com­mit­tee on Food and Nu­tri­tion to­gether with Agri­cul­ture, Mech­a­ni­sa­tion and Ir­ri­ga­tion De­vel­op­ment Minister Dr Joseph Made, briefed the Zanu-PF Polit­buro on Govern­ment’s po­si­tion with re­gards to fund­ing and in­puts dis­tri­bu­tion dur­ing the or­gan’s meet­ing on Wed­nes­day.

They said so far 2007 farm­ers have signed per­for­mance con­tracts un­der this pro­gramme (Com­mand Agri­cul­ture) and al­ready 5 961 hectares of ir­ri­ga­ble land have been tilled in prepa­ra­tion for the sea­son.

The Govern­ment has 980 trac­tors avail­able for hire in­clud­ing 74 from District De­vel­op­ment Fund and in­puts on the ground in­clude 2 750 tonnes of seed, 20 000 tonnes of lime, 4 500 tonnes of basal fer­tiliser, 6 400 tonnes am­mo­nium ni­trate and four mil­lion litres of diesel. Fer­tiliser com­pa­nies have 100 000 tonnes com­pounds and am­mo­nium ni­trate in stock, while seed com­pa­nies have 40 000 tonnes, which are enough to sup­port Com­mand Agri­cul­ture.

The pro­gramme aims to pro­duce two mil­lion tonnes of maize on 400 000 hectares of land. The farm­ers, to work un­der strict su­per­vi­sion, will be re­quired to com­mit five tonnes per hectare to Govern­ment as re­pay­ment for the in­puts and agri­cul­tural equip­ment. We are heart­ened by the hard work be­ing put in by Govern­ment to en­sure the suc­cess of the forth­com­ing farm­ing sea­son and urge farm­ers to com­ple­ment its valiant ef­forts by ful­fill­ing their end of the bar­gain. Zim­babwe des­per­ately needs to pro­duce enough food not only for self-sus­te­nance but to ex­port to the Sadc re­gion.

It also needs to re­gain its bread­bas­ket sta­tus and this can only be done through the com­bined ef­forts of Com­mand Agri­cul­ture, small scale com­mu­nal farm­ers and A2 farm­ers who have been ben­e­fit­ing from Govern­ment sup­port for more than a decade.

Speak­ing af­ter the Zanu-PF Polit­buro meet­ing, Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe called on the na­tion to pre­pare for the sea­son “with se­ri­ous de­ter­mi­na­tion” and re­cover from losses en­coun­tered in past agri­cul­tural sea­sons.

The Pres­i­dent also em­pha­sised the need for ad­e­quate prepa­ra­tions not­ing that the 2015-16 farm­ing sea­son was not pleas­ing. He en­cour­aged the na­tion to pre­pare with se­ri­ous de­ter­mi­na­tion to do bet­ter this sea­son and re­cover from the losses of the past two sea­sons. We im­plore farm­ers to heed the Pres­i­dent’s words and work to­wards a bumper har­vest.

In the same vein, we hail the lift­ing of sanc­tions on Zim­babwe’s top fer­tiliser man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany, ZFC and its par­ent firm Chemplex Group by the United States govern­ment as this will boost fer­tiliser pro­duc­tion ahead of the farm­ing sea­son. With re­gards to Com­mand Agri­cul­ture, we com­mend Govern­ment for com­ing up with the scheme which is aimed at en­sur­ing food security.

It is ap­par­ent that ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the land re­form pro­gramme have been in­ca­pac­i­tated to pro­duce enough to feed the na­tion but un­der Com­mand Agri­cul­ture, farm­ers will have no ex­cuse for fail­ing to pro­duce since ev­ery­thing will be availed to them. Govern­ment had set a tar­get of 2 000 farm­ers to par­tic­i­pate in the scheme and so far it has been over­sub­scribed demon­strat­ing the zeal and en­thu­si­asm it has gen­er­ated in the coun­try.

Au­thor­i­ties now need to move with speed to im­ple­ment the pro­gramme and we im­plore them to put in place mech­a­nisms to en­sure that farm­ers meet their obli­ga­tions. There should be strict su­per­vi­sion of se­lected farm­ers so that the scheme meets its tar­gets. With ad­e­quate rains, there is no rea­son why the coun­try can­not pro­duce enough maize to a stock its strate­gic re­serves. All that is needed it fo­cus, unity of pur­pose and hard work to cat­a­pult Zim­babwe back to the apex of agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion in the re­gion.

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