A LARGE number of communal, small-scale and A1 farmers are struggling to buy inputs for the 2014-15 summer cropping season after the Gran Marketing Board failed to pay for last season’s deliveries while a price hike in inputs has also made life difficult for them.
There are fears that this may result in reduced harvests thereby compromising food security at household level at a time most Zimbabweans are struggling to make ends meet due to the harsh economic climate. The development also comes at a time some farmers have lost inputs after planting soon after the onset of early rains in November, which were preceded by a long dry spell.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union information officer Tinashe Kairiza confirmed some farmers were struggling to buy inputs and called on government to ensure they are speedily paid.
“We are mindful that some farmers are yet to receive payment for grain delivered to GMB,” he said. “We implore GMB, and indeed government, to speedily come up with a payment plan that ensures that farmers have the adequate capital to finance their activities this summer cropping season,” he said.
Kairiza said the non payment coupled with the high cost of inputs, particularly maize seed, may result in reduced harvests as farmers were resorting to cutting the hectarage under crops.
“The high cost of inputs, particularly maize seed has hit hard our farmers, especially small scale producers. On average, a 10kg maize seed bag is now costing between US$28 and US$30.This is a steep price that our farmers cannot pay,” said Kairiza.
“The fear now is that farmers may cut on the hectarage of land put under maize or resort to using uncertified seed. This will compromise on the size of the yields as well as the quality.”
Last year farmers were buying a 10kg bag of seed maize for between$20 and $24.
In an advisory to farmers, ZFU president Retired Major Abdul Credit Nyathi said although the season had started in earnest farmers should be aware of climate change which was also affecting farmers.
“The 2014-2015 summer cropping season has now started in earnest.
But it was heralded by the false onset of rains in the month of November which saw most farmers commence planting. Such a rainfall trend, which is an evident impact of climate change, has seen yields tumble sharply not only in Zimbabwe but across the world,” he said.
Nyathi urged farmers to pay attention to the 10 day weather bulletin broadcast by the department of meteorology, when making decisions.
“Farmers are advised to plant short-season and drought-resistant seed varieties. Seeds and fertilisers should be sourced from certified manufacturers,” he said.
Nyathi said there was need for a conversation between stakeholders to find ways of financing farmers given that most financial institutions were failing to extend lines of credit to farmers due to the liquidity crunch in the country.
He, however, urged farmers to prioritise budgeting so that they self-finance their activities.