'March elections disrupt on cropping season'

BULAWAYO - The watershed elections expected next year in March are likely to impact negatively on the cropping season that has just started, an Agritex official has said.

In an address directed at the minister of Finance Tendai Biti during the 2013 budget consultative meeting held in Bulawayo yesterday, Matabeleland North chief Agritex officer Dumisani Nyoni proposed the election  dates be pushed ahead to allow a successful cropping season.

“Honourable minister, if you talk about elections to be held around March, to us you are already saying how many hectares will you have ploughed around March,” said Nyoni.

“The elections will affect the sequence of agricultural activities with the onset of the rains. That is when most farmers will be engaged in practices that influence what comes out of the summer crop,” said Nyoni, without elaborating how the elections will affect the agricultural pattern.

Nyoni appealed to the minister for government to prioritise the farming season by ensuring elections are not held during the season.

“You would rather have elections held mid-year so that we have our food in the granaries before we start voting,” he pleaded.

Nyoni appealed to the government to consider adequate fund allocation to fight livestock deaths in Matabeleland region, once known as the hub of cattle ranching and largest supplier of beef in the country.

“We need the government to consider introducing a livestock development fund which addresses issues such as the acquisition of inputs like stock feeds and medicines among other stock requirements,” the Agritex official said.

“We continue to lose a lot of livestock because of lack of finance to stop such situations. This year, the government intervened but after we had lost a number of cattle.

“So we need a development fund that farmers are going to continually access for livestock purposes,” Nyoni said, adding that small dams should be constructed in the region to curb perennial water challenges for the livestock.

He said government must ensure agricultural extension officers are deployed to service the region.

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