Zimbabwe readies for next season

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe last week reported on the progress it has made in ensuring availability of inputs before the onset of the season, getting the “thumbs up” from farmers in particular and the industry in general.

Governor Dr Gideon Gono last week highlighted the current status of critical agricultural inputs such as fertiliser, agro-chemicals and fuel.

He said a total of 50 million litres of fuel have been budgeted for farmers, twice the combined supply for 2004 and 2005. The fuel would be sold at the gazetted price of $335 for petrol and $320 for diesel.

The Reserve Bank chief said some facilities have also been signed between the apex bank and foreign partners for the importation of fertiliser.

At least 44 134 tonnes have already been imported and was awaiting distribution while the remaining 234 796 tonnes continues to be delivered.

The fertiliser imports are expected to go a long way in augmenting local production.

In support of the local industry, local fertilizer companies have also received in excess of US$6 million for the procurement of raw materials and spares.

The Reserve Bank has released US$2 million to the agro-chemicals industry while another US$3 million would be made available next week.

From the US$13 million that the industry had requested, the remaining US$8 million would be availed in two equal tranches in the next two months.

According to the governor, “additional and substantial” quantities of chemical would be imported before end of this year from facilities that have been signed.

This was a major step in efforts to revive the sector, which is the backbone of the economy.

Analysts have pointed out that with a sound agricultural base, Zimbabwe can easily regain its status as the breadbasket of the region.

“This is quite positive,” said Mr Nick Munjoro, who farms in Banket. “As farmers we should make sure that we deliver,” he added.

“We were advised that the country will receive enough rains and what is simply needed and to produce. Inputs are there, the land is there, we are expecting good rains and what should stop us,” an agronomist with a local fertilizer company said.

University of Zimbabwe (UZ) soils professor Professor Sheunesu Mupepereki said it was encouraging to note that the Reserve Bank has taken a leading role in availing inputs to farmers.

Professor Mupepereki said although the situation was still critical, there was a notable improvement compared with last year.

“It is encouraging that the central bank is actively involved and key inputs such as fertilizer, such as compound D, since it is required at the planting stage,” said Professor Mupepereki.

This, he said, would ensure that a bigger hectarage was put under the various staple and export crops, which include maize, tobacco, tea and sugarcane.

The agricultural expert also noted that the reduction is statutory reserves by the RBZ would boost cash resources for banks which meant “they will have more money to support farmers”. ‘ The Herald.

Another agricultural commentator and a farmer, Mr Jonathan Kadzura, expressed optimism that higher production levels would be achieved this season provided inputs were disbursed in a transparency manner.

“There should total transparency in the way these inputs are distributed,” Mr Kadzura said.

“Therefore mechanisms should be put in place to ensure these inputs are accessed by genuine applicants and Zimbabwe will definitely say goodbye to food shortages.”

Agricultural productivity has taken a tumble in the past five years with much of the blame being put on the unavailability of inputs, mostly seed, fertilizer, chemicals and fuel.

October 2006
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