Maize output set to decline, warns CFU

ZIMBABWE’s maize production is set to decline in the 2013/2014 farming season to below 799 000 tonnes produced during the previous season due to a myriad of problems, among them late planting by farmers due to shortages of inputs and inadequate funding for the sector, the Commercial Farmers Union warned this week.

Staff Writer

Most farmers planted late into the season as they awaited rains and some are still battling to procure fertilisers as local manufacturers fail to meet demand.

CFU president Charles Taffs said: “There was a lot of late planting and this usually results in lower yields. If you plant after December 15, indications are that there will be lower yields.”

Last season Zimbabwe recorded a 17% drop in maize production to 799 000 tonnes from 900 000 tonnes. The national annual maize requirement for the country is 1,2 million tonnes.

The CFU is still compiling a comprehensive crop assessment for the 2013/2014 season.

Taffs said agricultural production in the country could significantly improve if agricultural financing is addressed.

“The country has a huge funding problem which it must address,” he said adding, “It is not government’s job to fund agriculture. It should be funded through the banking system.”

Government is still to conclude land tenure issues after embarking on the fast-track land redistribution programme in 2000.

Agriculture minister Joseph Made conceded input shortages and funding problems besetting the sector could affect maize production, but said it was too early to predict the total yield.

“We don’t have enough at the moment and we are battling to get stocks in through importing, especially top dressing,” Made said. “We are concerned by the motives of those who are releasing crop assessments now. How can one do a comprehensive assessment when we are still telling our farmers to plant?”

Made also said the ministry was still monitoring the weather patterns as the country has in the past experienced mid-season drought. He said government would give its realistic assessment after that period.

The World Food Programme last year predicted the country was likely to register a food deficit of nearly 500 000 tonnes in 2014. It also projected at least 2,2 million people would need food assistance this year.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa in his budget statement projected that agriculture would grow by 9% anchored on growth in maize production (62,8%), cotton (27,8%), soya beans (26,7%) and groundnuts (56,8%).

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3 Responses to Maize output set to decline, warns CFU

  1. whidzo we smoko January 17, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    To those against the land redistribution, here is the clearest indication that this resource is very precious as evidenced by this Taffs guy who cant stop commenting on the agric situation of this country. Mr Tuffs, if only you and your colleagues had accepted the willing buyer willing seller concept and accepted to co exist with the natives alongside, you would be making these statements as an involved farmer and not an aggrieved one.
    Please have the courtesy to advise the stubborn Boer community in SA to learn from Zim, so as to prevent a catastrophic disenfranchisement of your ilk, for they might end up commenting from the fence.

  2. samson January 17, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    I’m don’t want to be drawn into the politics of the land but comment on real issues. Mr Taffs is spot on that the yield will be lower. I was in Guruve last week, they also recon that due to the delay in planting their maize yield will be affected by close to 2 tonnes per ha. The CFU may have issues but let’s remember that these guys are farmers and they do have knowledge. Dr Made has the education but has not farmed successfully anywhere we know. These guys are not as educated but have experience in this field. I do believe that we will have a reduced harvest this year. Lets brace for imports and start looking for money now. I know what I say here will be a headlines very soon when realise that we have a declined harvest. Accept criticism and move on guys and maybe learn from those who know.

  3. whidzo we smoko January 17, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

    I appreciate your comments and true these white folk are very good farmers but farmers are trained not born. Given time the blacks will also become good farmers due to exposure. All I am trying to articulate is that these whites, despite their agricultural; knowledge flatly refused to share the land equitably with the local folk, leading to where they are advising from the periphery instead of being in the mix. Do you have any idea of so called ”Reserves” they are barren, gravel pieces of land suitable for subsistence farming only. And its the blacks only who were settled there by the then ” Land Tenure Act ”. Don’t you aspire to have black commercial farmers producing for the nation some day? Yes the yields are likely to go down due to lack of farming experience, lack of financial access and corruptly acquired multiple farms that are lying fallow, but with time we shall have an administration that will right the wrongs brought up by those that sought to correct political wrongs. The Mades will one day go but the land resettlement scheme will be around and just a reminder, even the MDC wanted the land question addressed. And from what I hear they were the ones who first mulled the idea, but were beaten to the implementation stage.

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