Made told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that archaic storage facilities continued to hamper agricultural growth since most of them were constructed during the colonial era and the government had failed to refurbish or build new facilities because of limited financial capacity.
Made said the high cost of electricity coupled with erratic power supplies continued to push up operational costs were also responsible for the resultant crop losses in the sector.
“It is practically impossible for farmers to be productive and profitable with electricity charges of US$700 per hectare,” said Made. “The charges are too high,” he said.
He said in the 1990s the agricultural sector would pay for electricity twice a year after harvest through a stop order system and this was one of the contributing factors to high productivity during that era.
He said there was a need for the private sector to invest in the refurbishment of agricultural storage facilities and equipment.
Made revealed that a total of 700 000 hectares of crops completely failed this year because of poor rainfall and the untimely distribution of inputs to farmers.
He also blamed climate change saying it had affected rainfall patterns.
The largely drought-ravaged areas include all the Matabeleland provinces and some parts of Masvingo, Manicaland and Mashonaland.
He said this year’s yield would also be affected bya reduction in the total planted land.
According to an Agritex survey,about 247 000 hectares of maize was planted countrywide by December 31 last year compared to 379 993 hectares in the previous season.
However, Made said Zimbabwe was prepared for the drought and would soon be releasing maize from its strategic reserves to affected regions, but would also continue importing maize from neighbouring countries.
There is no meaningful surplus maize in the region.