Farmers bemoan input shortages

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CHIMANIMANI West farmers are bemoaning the shortage of farming inputs, which is affecting preparations amid fears of a poor agricultural yield this coming season.

Farmers at Gudyanga, Tonhorai and Maunganidze irrigation schemes have complained about the high costs of inputs, which are available in a few retail outlets saying it has caused delays in planting their maize. A 50kg bag of Ammonium Nitrate fertiliser is now costing US$38 as compared to last season’s US$33 while Compound D is now going for US$35 up from US$27.

However, most farmers have resorted to wait for the Command Agriculture inputs so that they begin planting their maize. Maunganidze Irrigation Scheme chairperson Mr Elias Ziwenjere said: “Most farmers have already done land preparations but we cannot do anything without fertilisers. These fertilisers are only available in a few stores but the prices are too high. Our only hope is left on Command Agriculture inputs so that we begin putting our seeds into the ground.”

He said besides fertilisers, farmers also needed pesticides to fight the fall army- worm that hit most irrigation schemes last season.

“Besides fertilisers, farmers in our irrigation schemes also need to buy pesticides so that we begin fighting the fall army orm at the earliest stage to avoid losses. Most farmers are failing to bear the high costs and this is most likely to affect agricultural production in our areas,” said Mr Ziwenjere.

An agricultural consultant working with farmers in the three irrigation schemes urged farmers to continue with land preparations, despite the input challenges.

“We are urging farmers to continue with land preparations so that they start planting as soon as the inputs are available. Most farmers are waiting for Command Agriculture inputs but those with a few inputs can begin sowing their seeds equivalent to the amount of fertilisers that they have. It is not advisable to plant maize seeds without fertiliser so farmers should wait until the fertilisers are available,” he said. – Manica Post