The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
FARMERS’ organisations have expressed concern over the high prices of inputs, calling for immediate Government intervention to address the situation.
A survey conducted by Sunday News last week showed that the price of ammonium nitrate fertiliser shot to $5 500 per 50kg from $4 700 in September this year.
The price of compound D fertiliser, which was pegged at $3 200 in 2020 is now selling for $5 210. A 10 kilogramme seed maize bag is going for $5 617 while a 5kg bag is selling for $2 871.
In an interview, Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Shadreck Makombe said the increase in the price of inputs was worrying.
“Increasing price of inputs is very worrying on the part of farmers. We continue to see this happening across all items on the open market.
The resultant effect of this is that production costs will go up against depressed markets. Farmers’ margins will be eroded thereby rendering agriculture unprofitable,” said Mr Makombe.
Mr Makombe implored inputs suppliers to engage farmers to map the way forward.
“Therefore we are appealing to authorities to intervene. There should be some way in order to curb these increases.
If possible, even a subsidy can be of much help because farmers are hard hit. Farmers are currently in a dilemma because of the high prices of inputs.”
The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union vice-president Mr Winston Babbage echoed Mr Makombe’s sentiments.
“The cost of cropping inputs is too high and most farmers cannot afford to take it to the fields.
We are saying Government has stopped the sale of maize and made Grain Marketing Board (GMB) the sole purchaser with a controlled price, this same condition should be done to seed houses. Their prices should also be controlled to enable a win-win situation for everyone,” said Mr Babbage.
Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) chairman as well as AgriSeeds sales and marketing director, Mr Ivan Craig said the cost of inputs depends on how a farmer is farming.
“People might think the higher the production cost the more expensive it is to farm but the opposite is true.
Where the inputs are said to be higher and you follow your soil analysis results and recommendations that use this amount of fertiliser, the money you put per hectare sometimes sounds too high, but you are given the recommendations to reach a certain yield,” said Mr Craig.
He said that farmers must consider other alternatives such as coming together as a group so that they can negotiate for a discount or using organic manure for small-scale farmers.
Meanwhile, in terms of the high cost of maize seed on the market, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Dr Anxious Masuka is on record saying there was hope that with the stabilisation of the micro-economic environment the prices will be more stable.
He said when farmers get paid after delivering their produce to the GMB, they will be able to retool for the summer season by acquiring the inputs there.
“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.”