Prosper Ndlovu, Business Editor
THE Government says it is pleased with the progress made in the agriculture sector so far and looks forward to a good harvest in view of continued good rains and the promising crop.
This has put pressure on Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa to urgently mobilise resources to ensure timely payment of farmers, facilitate a smooth harvest, transportation and storage of yields.
“I am very pleased with the way we did this season, especially in the agricultural sector. So, our headache now is to find money for the 2016-17 maize crops,” said Minister Chinamasa.
He told Parliament last week that Government has rendered enough support to farmers under the Presidential input scheme, the $500 million Command Agriculture model as well as the support given to cotton growers.
“I think the heavens also smiled on us. So far indications are that it is going to give me different problems. When I look at the maize crop, if it matures, it means we are going to have problems in harvesting, meaning we need more combine harvesters,” said the minister.
“We are also going to have lots of problems in storage, it means we need to look at our silos. We need to rehabilitate them starting now and we are working very hard to provide the necessary resources. We may also need to consider acquiring some driers, and then there will be problems with transportation logistics to get the maize from the farmer to GMB, not to talk about finding money to buy the maize.”
He paid tribute to his colleague Dr Joseph Made (Minister of Agriculture) for the hard work done in supporting farmers so far including clearing outstanding payments for previous grain deliveries.
Minister Chinamasa said Government was satisfied with the interventions put to contain the army worm by the Ministry of Agriculture, which has deployed teams across the country to identify, map out and manage affected areas.
He said the biggest challenge in the revival of agriculture was availability of fertiliser.
“Our national requirement, all things being equal, should not be less than 300 000 metric tonnes. It should always be above and we are going to work hard to ensure that we have these quantities way before the beginning of the agricultural season,” Minister Chinamasa said.
The Minister said in the coming 2017/18 season, the Government would increase its agriculture support to include other strategic crops such as soya beans and wheat. He said there was no need for Zimbabwe to import soya beans for cooking oil purposes.
“We are aware that companies that manufacture cooking oil are importing crude oil. We should move beyond that and have our own soya beans, our own cotton seed to do that.
“I am happy, Mr Speaker Sir, Dr Made and I were sent pictures of the current cotton crop, and I wish I had brought the pictures here. I have higher expectation that we will get a higher cotton output. If we do, it means we will have more cotton seed to feed into the cotton oil companies,” he said.
Minister Chinamasa also said Government was engaged in serious talks to boost livestock production for A1 and A2 farmers, particularly in Matabeleland provinces.
Article Source: The Chronicle