Summer cropping season shifts gear





GOVERNMENT has mobilised over 180 000 tonnes of agriculture inputs, including seed and fertiliser, to support smallholder farmers under the Climate-Proofed Presidential Input Scheme (Pfumvudza/Intwasa) during the forthcoming 2021/22 summer cropping season.

Distribution of the inputs is currently ongoing through 87 Grain Marketing Board depots countrywide, with the allocation of inputs set to be completed by Monday next week.

President Mnangagwa will officially commission this year’s programme in Gokwe this week.

The Sunday Mail has gathered that authorities have marshalled 15 000 tonnes of maize seed, 4 500 tonnes of soyabean seed, 800 tonnes of sugar bean seed and 3 000 tonnes of sorghum seed.

In addition, 80 000 tonnes of Compound D fertiliser has been secured, while an equal amount of Ammonium Nitrate fertiliser has also been procured.

Around 2,3 million households will receive support under the programme, which is targeting to put 280 000 hectares under food crops this year.

Last season, 1,8 million households benefited from the programme.

Each household will receive support for production on five plots, up from three last season.

Agriculture, Technical and Extension Services (Agritex) director, Mr Stancilae Tapererwa, said inputs distribution was progressing well.

“Inputs distribution is now in full swing across the country. Most parts of the country have completed land preparations and have received inputs,” he said.

“President Mnangagwa will officially commission this year’s inputs distribution programme in Gokwe North.

“We are moving with speed to ensure that we beat the November 15 inputs distribution target date. Land preparation is almost complete, so we are moving with speed on inputs distribution.

“At the moment, only farmers with irrigation facilities have started planting while the rest are yet to start.”

In an interview, GMB chief executive Mr Rockie Mutenha said inputs were being transported from depots to ward centres free of charge.

“Farmers countrywide are now receiving inputs under the Presidential Inputs Scheme,” said Mr Mutenha.

“Inputs are delivered for free from the depots to the wards.

“There is absolutely no need for farmers to pay for transport as this is the responsibility of GMB.

“Presidential inputs are not for sale, those found selling them will be prosecuted.”

The Government has set aside $152 million for transportation of inputs.

This year, the programme has attracted many farmers who did not participate last season.

Before receiving inputs, farmers are required to have Agritex certification showing that they have prepared their plots as per specifications.

Rainy season to begin anytime now

The Metrological Services Department has said the rainy season could begin anytime now.

Forecaster Mr James Ngoma said: “There is no definite date on which we anticipate the rains to begin but areas in the western parts of the country such as Matabeleland North and South have been receiving rains over the past few days.

“However, the Mashonaland provinces, which normally are the last to receive the rains, have not started receiving the rains.

“We, however, expect the rains any time from now.”

Zimbabwe is forecast to receive between normal to above normal rainfall this season. The Government has projected a maize harvest of 1,48 million tonnes from farmers who receive support from the Presidential Input Scheme. Smallholder farmers are also expected to produce 600 000 tonnes of traditional grains.

Meanwhile, Mr Mutenha said as at November 2, farmers had delivered 125 000 tonnes of wheat to the GMB.

He said the grain produced this season together with the carry-over stock

from last season would be enough to meet the national demand and bridge the import gap.

“Our current expected intake together with carry-over stocks from last season should be enough to meet our national demand of 360 000 tonnes”.