The Sunday News
ZIMBABWE recorded one of its most successful rainy seasons this past summer, with almost every corner of the country receiving above average rainfall.
After years of erratic rains, this was a much needed relief — bringing joy and smiles across the country especially to the farming community which had been forced to endure years of near misses as some of the crops and animals came under the effects of drought.
It was not all positive though. So heavy were the rains that up to today some families are still stuck at Chingwizi in Mwenezi after they were relocated from areas around Tokwe-Mukosi Dam in Masvingo because of floods.
In Tsholotsho too, some families are still to recover from the effects of the floods.
Most roads especially in rural areas are now impassable and some of the bridges were washed away because of the rains.
However, farmers too are busy taking final stock of the fruits of the successful season.
The Government through an assessment has indicated that the country managed to get enough food and there won’t be any need to import supplementary maize.
Livestock farmers, unlike in the past, are not panicking yet as pastures seem good enough to provide grass until the next rain season.
The summer season showed once again that the country is back on track in terms of maximising on rain to increase agricultural production.
However, in the middle of this success, it seems the country completely forgot that there is anything called winter farming.
Winter is almost over and what is coming out of the fields is simply depressing.
We can as well declare that Zimbabwean farmers have completely abandoned winter farming.
The most common crop which farmers grow in winter is wheat and reports show that the country only managed to crop enough quantities to last just for a week.
It means for the other 50 plus weeks we will be importing wheat or flour putting pressure on our import budget.
Most irrigation schemes that used to anchor wheat farming are looking like any other communal field — nothing but stover from the summer crop.
In the past these schemes could have been green belts of the wheat crop flapping leaves towards maturity.
What makes the situation even worse is that it seems the country did not take advantage of the rains to maximise on winter production.
After receiving such heavy rains, I am sure this was the time to build on the success to launch an even more successful winter season.
Most dams and rivers across the country had water and surely we cannot blame anyone for the dismal winter performance.
It is worrying that coordination on winter cropping has been going off the rails in the past years.
Obvious, the Government, due to limited financial space, is struggling to fully fund farming operations.
On the other hand, milling companies and bakeries seem content with importing wheat and flour rather than supporting the local farmer.
They argue that imports are cheap but overall we are just contributing to the decline of the economy.
Companies need to take painful, bold but future looking decisions to ensure that they also contribute to the development of the nations.
Immediate profits are attractive but taking a small quantity of the profit to support the farmer is not a bad idea. We have seen bakeries commissioning new baking equipment, some worth millions of dollars just to bake bread from imported flour.
Why not set aside another small fund to support the farmers. We cannot celebrate profits and increased production from processing foreign raw materials when we are capable of producing our own.
Farmers too need to come to the party. It is now more than 10 years after the land redistribution programme and it’s enough time for any serious person to have settled by then.
We have seen how every farmer is being attracted to tobacco and to some extent the golden leaf has become almost self-sustaining.
Farmers must start looking at ways of reviving winter wheat farming the same way they have done in tobacco.
Government too, is spite of the challenges, must take a leading role in promoting the cropping of traditional food crops.
We might have gained a lot of foreign currency in growing tobacco but what benefit will it bring if the country uses more than what it gets to import wheat.
We cannot afford to see another golden opportunity pass by next time.
Good analysis, really Zimra risks losing clients. Zimra is punishing small and big companies for doing well. These companies chose to do the right thing by registering their business operations with Zimra but in return Zimra is milking them all the money and again this is leading to business closures. Some companies are now regretting publishing and declaring their annual profits, since Zimra is acting in bad faith. Let Zimra allow these companies to grow so that it will get more revenue from these companies and build our economy. To Zimra I say it’s not about collecting money from these companies but also about protecting these companies from collapse so you continue getting revenue. —0778312102
Quite a good analysis. In fact it’s all money collecting institutions that collect the little profit we realise from this hostile economic environment. Policies are against the Zim Asset framework. —0779085837
Hie Gabriel. I really liked your economic focus on Zimra. You couldn’t have said it any better. The biggest problem with Zimra is they don’t care whether you have been paid or not. It is sad my brother that I sold a big mine in 2012 and up to now I have not been paid and had to borrow to pay Zimra and now garnishing accounts has killed all hopes of ever rising again. It’s painful we work so hard and borrow to sustain business but Zimra just want to garnish accounts even on pre-payments. I think it’s just careless. Thanks a lot at least someone out there knows and understands how we are struggling in the market. —Nyasha, 0773485801