Zimbabwe headed for another drought: farmers union
from REGERAI PEPUKAI in Masvingo, Zimbabwe
MASVINGO – ZIMBABWE’s agricultural output for the 2014/15 season is forecasted to drop amid a shortage of inputs among peasant farmers, who constitute more than 90 percent of the drought-prone country’s farmers.
The Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU), which represents mostly small holder farmers, predicted a slump especially on the staple maize crop as farmers battle to acquire inputs due to shortages of financial resources.
Jeremiah Chimwanda, ZFU manager in southern Zimbabwe said farmers had no money to purchase inputs.
“If our ordinary farmers do not get free farming inputs the overall agricultural production of the country is going to significantly drop,” said Chimwanda.
“Our peasant farmers have no money and they had been used to get these inputs for free. We have since discovered that most of our farmers are going to use maize and other crops stored in their bans as seeds because they cannot afford to buy crops seeds from shops and this will affected the type of crop they are going to produce and yields in general.
“We are forecasting a 20 to 30 percent drop in agricultural production especially on the staple maize crop,” he added.
Nickson Chingwe, a farmer from Gutu, said that most farmers had no money to buy inputs hence they are going to use some of their produce as seed for the next farming season.
“I am just going to use the maize I have in my shed as seeds because I do not have money to buy scientifically tested seed varieties,” said Chingwe.
Government has been providing free farming inputs to ordinary peasant farmers for the past ten years but has since shifted its policy and stopped the facility, in a move that is set to adversely affect production.
According to statics made available by ZFU, peasant farmers account for over 70 percent of the country’s total agricultural production.
ZFU officials have since warned government to reverse its decision and as a tradition revert to its old policy of providing free farming inputs to ordinary farmers to avoid a significant drop in agricultural production.
Agriculture Mechanization and Irrigation Development Minister, Davies Marapira, has maintained that the free farming inputs facility had been scrapped since the government was facing financial problems.
He also said that the free farming inputs facility promoted lethargy among farmers.
“Farmers should be able to buy their own inputs and not always wait for government to give them for free.
“After all, the system promoted laziness among farmers. We advised farmers well on time and any serious farmer should have prepared for the summer cropping season which now at hand,” Marapira said.
Zimbabwe’s summer cropping season normally commences in November but this year, most farmers have not planted anything due to the late rains.
The country has battled incessant reduction in agriculture output following years of drought and a land reform exercise critics argue killed commercial agriculture.
– CAJ News
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