Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Agricultural pillars critical to agric recovery

Agriculture pillars critical to agric recovery

Saturday, 26 March 2011 20:46

Dennis Zaranyika

Farmers’ unions
FARMERS are the backbone of all agricultural systems, without farmers there 
would be no food and inadequate raw materials. Farmers are facing the 
following challenges:

Inadequate funding, especially long-term loans and capital funds.
Low viability due to low producer prices.
Inadequate farm equipment and irrigation infrastructure.
All our farmers’ unions should work 24/7 to mobilise farmers and lobby for 
their various requirements including conducive policies on agriculture.

Availability of suitable land is vital for agriculture and the whole farming 
community is urged to ensure that the land is used wisely following all 
principles of land conservation so that we become highly productive. 
Security of tenure should also be looked at critically so that farmers can 
invest adequately on their farms.

Seed houses and other input suppliers
There are 10 seed companies in Zimbabwe and hard work has been put into 
breeding adaptable varieties with high yields, disease and drought 
tolerances. The seed industry managed to produce more than adequate maize 
seed (+40 000 tonnes).  Seed Co alone produced 22 000 tonnes in 2010 and 
there is no need for seed imports into Zimbabwe.  This will save a lot of 
foreign currency that can be used for other priorities.
Seed is now readily available in almost all shops, hardwares and other 
agro-dealers. Seed alone carries 20% of the potential yield, the rest is 
determined by the crop management. Fertilisers supply the essential crop 
nutrients for crop growth and good yields. Fertiliser and crop chemicals 
availability has improved quite significantly, most outlets have stocks of 
fertiliser and crop chemicals.

Finance institutions
Banks have agribusiness units that fund farmers and financing agriculture 
has been a challenge due to collateral issues.  However, banks have been 
bold and funded our farmers despite the loan security issues. Suitable 
long-term loans that cover the crop growth cycles are required and we urge 
banks to provide farmers with the required working capital as well as 
capital funding requirements (tractors, implements, centre pivots etc).

Government and extension services
Government has consistently kept agriculture moving forward, even under the 
hyper-inflation conditions.  This was done through inputs and infrastructure 
support (seed, fertiliser, tractors and implements). The agriculture sector 
requests government to continue supporting farmers in order to build their 
capacity. Agritex plays a pivotal role in the provision of much needed 
agronomic and other extension support. Agritex also co-ordinates all pillars 
of agriculture to achieve food security. Other farmer organisations should 
work with Agritex and the government to execute projects that benefit the 
farming community and the whole economy.

Agro-dealers provide the vital link between input suppliers and the farming 
community. Inputs and other farm requirements are available in the farming 
areas (at the door step) through the agro-dealers.
Most agro-dealers stock seed, fertilisers, crop chemicals and farm 
implements. Farmers should buy their requirements from nearest agro-dealers 
to reduce on transport and other buying costs. There are a number of 
initiatives being implemented by NGOs and donors to strengthen agro-dealers 
through the voucher system.  Lets all support these noble initiatives that 
will improve farm inputs.

The rainfall pattern for this country can be a big challenge to the 
agriculture sector.  This is particularly so in years of drought and poor 
distribution of the rainfall. Farmers are encouraged to invest in irrigation 
systems to mitigate the effects of drought and the impact of climate change.
Weather forecasts and their interpretations are key for proper planning of 
agricultural activities. Agritex and other extension staff should assist 
farmers to interpret the weather forecasts and plan accordingly.

Availability of suitable markets provides a pull factor for growers to 
produce more and more. All stakeholders must pay competitive prices for the 
produce from our farmers. Farmers’ unions and others must link all farmers 
with the markets as this is paramount for continued production. There is 
need to explore foreign markets for surpluses as the seed sector is at the 
verge of having surplus seed for exports.

All farmers’ unions should continue mobilising farmers for organised 
production and lobby for conducive policies on agriculture.
Security of tenure should be quickly addressed so that farmers can invest 
adequately on their farms.
Seed production, fertiliser and crop chemicals availability should be 
accessible to farmers timely.
Suitable long-term loans should be extended to farmers.

— Dennis Zaranyika is the managing director of Seed Co Zimbabwe.


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