Farmers have delivered nearly 214 000 tonnes of maize to the Grain Marketing Board since the beginning of the season in April, a senior official has said.
The average weekly deliveries are 4 000 tonnes, higher than last year’s, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Davison Marapira said yesterday.
“The deliveries are moving quicker than we expected and some of our depots are overwhelmed” said Mr Marapira.
This year’s deliveries are expected to reach one million tonnes from 1,5 million last year as production was affected by a mid-season drought.
Last year’s overall output reached 2,2 million tonnes after the Government supported farmers with inputs through state programmes such as the Presidential Inputs Scheme and Command Agriculture.
However, it is expected to fall to 1,5 million tonnes.
“We had a very long dry spell that compromised our yield capacity,” said Mr Marapira.
The deputy minister said farmers were being paid in two weeks after delivering their crop.
Meanwhile, farmers have expressed concerned over veld fires, which could potentially destroy the late crop. As a result of the mid-season drought, some of the crop was planted in late February – putting it at risk of getting destroyed by the fires.
“A significant hectarage was planted very late and will also be harvested late,” Mr Wonder Chabikwa, president of Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers union said in an interview.
“This late crop is at risk of getting destroyed by the fires and we call upon relevant stakeholders to start looking at preventative measures to avoid the potential loss.”
Despite limited resources, the Government has continued supporting farmers since the land reform programme in 2000 through different structures of agricultural subsidies.
Apart from the Presidential Input Scheme and Command Agriculture, the pricing structure for local maize, cotton, soya bean and wheat is another form of subsidy. Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa, said the government will continue supporting agriculture given its importance to the economy.
“I have not hesitated to support agriculture,” Minister Chinamasa told our sister paper, Business Weekly recently. “In fact when all is told we have given unparalleled support to agriculture because first- in our case – and I’m sure in other cases – it is the anchor of our economy. You need to produce output in order to link up to other sectors of the economy; agro-processing for instance. Unless you have got the product there is nothing to process, so you need to grow the product first.
“After you have produced the product you also need of course to increase yield per hectare, so you need to support it in that regard. But more than 70 percent of our people earn their livelihoods from agriculture so that is something that you cannot ignore.”