The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa will this month launch this year’s Presidential Input Scheme as the country gears for another successful farming season, where one million hectares will be put under the under Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme.
In addition, 2,3 million families will benefit from free inputs under the support scheme. Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka told Sunday News on the sidelines of the Esigodini Agricultural College graduation ceremony on Friday that the inputs were already at different Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots across the country.
“We have started to send inputs to GMB and so far, they have received over 35 000 metric tonnes of compound D fertiliser and over 8 000 metric tonnes of seed which has already started being distributed,” said Dr Masuka.
He said under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa farming programme, Government was looking at 2,3 million households, with 1,8 million households coming from rural areas, while they had also included those doing transient urban cultivation so that they could be assisted.
“A total 72 000 families throughout the country have done all the five plots, about 700 000 families have now dug the holes for Pfumvudza/Intwasa. We urge all farmers to complete this process because it is a prerequisite for on boarding them to be given inputs.”
He said the Government was also curbing inputs abuse as every farmer and household will be completing a unique contract form to confirm that they actually have received the inputs so that corruption could be eliminated.
The minister said under the Presidential Input Scheme Pfumvudza/Intwasa they were looking at 280 000 hectares of maize, over 100 000 hectares of sorghum, over 10 000 hectares of soya beans and 50 000 hectares or more of sunflower.
He said fertiliser companies, financiers and other supporting institutions and stakeholders had committed themselves to complimenting the Government in supporting farmers to ensure optimum production.
“Preparations for the 2021/22 agricultural season are at an advanced stage. Every week I chair a summer working group to ensure that from input suppliers’ of fertilisers, chemicals, seed are all ready. Yesterday (Thursday) we heard from them that everything is ready.
We also heard from the financiers that they are ready so the CBZ Agro yield scheme which is a national enhanced agricultural productivity scheme commonly called Command is ready and they will be able to support 290 000 hectares of maize and another 50 000 hectares of soya beans,” he said.
Dr Masuka said the Government was also looking at the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) coming on board and they had given them a target of 150 000 hectares.
“This morning (Friday) I was discussing with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube to ensure that we capacitate the AFC to be able to fund some farmers. We also have private contractors, the likes of Delta Corporation, Innscor, PHI Commodites, and everyone else so far, they have committed 55 000 hectares which will be able to produce over half-a-million metric tonnes of various grains.”
The minister said the GMB was ready to play its new role as the supply chain manager of the country. Agritex, he said, had also been sufficiently capacitated in terms of motorisation with 3 000 out of the 5 000 motorbikes distributed. He said Agritex officers had each been given an iPad so that they are able to communicate with the head office.
“We are so excited so everyone is ready for the season and I urge farmers to go out to ensure that this season is very successful, the rainfall prediction has been good, we are expecting average to above-average rainfall for this half of the year and the next.”
In terms of the high cost of maize seed on the market, Dr Masuka said it was their hope that with the stabilisation of the micro-economic environment, prices will be stable. He said when farmers got paid after delivering their produce to the GMB, they will be able to retool for the summer season by acquiring inputs.
“Government has stepped in to do this input provision so that farmers do not carry the burden of having to go and purchase the seed. For now, that’s where the costs are but we are doing everything in our power to ensure that there is stabilisation of prices, as the micro-economic environment stabilises, inflation comes down from a Government perspective because that enhances the operating environment.”