Another doomed agric season?

HARARE - With a poor 2012 agricultural season having forced Finance minister Tendai to amend his growth forecast for the year from the initial 9,4 percent to 5,4 percent, news coming from his office seems to spell more doom for the sector and the economy.

Already under immense pressure to increase funding to the once-vibrant sector, his ministry has projected a 400 000 tonnes fertiliser deficit.

Local fertiliser companies say they only have in their stock 300 000 metric tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate and Compound D out of the national requirement of 700 000 metric tonnes.

The fertiliser shortages are only microcosm of the bigger version of challenges currently dogging the agriculture sector and something concrete needs to be done if the country is to avoid another poor farming season.

If we go into the facts, we can realise government has once again shot itself in the foot, after its chaotic land reform, by failing to pay more than $50 million owed to the producers for the previous season supplies thereby negatively affecting their capacity.

The news come after reports that government owes suppliers more than $340 million for services, raising questions on its ability to pay for this year’s inputs.

Early in the year, government promised a $20 million facility for the winter wheat planting season.

The facility was, however, marred by reports that most farmers were not able to access vouchers with which to access the inputs from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), leaving many farmers unable to start their preparations.

The nation requires 400 000 tonnes of wheat annually and has struggled to feed itself over the last decade, as local producers have only managed to produce up to 260 000 tonnes of wheat from about 65 000 hectares, with the balance being imported.

Agriculture, arguably the country’s economic mainstay, has been hamstrung by funding constraints as financial institutions are refusing to give out loans to farmers due to the unavailability of security in the form of title deeds.

Agronomists and farmers alike have consistently called for the securitisation of land, a plea which has fallen on deaf ears as government remain adamant on its 99-year leases and itself as a self-funder.

The question that arises then becomes — is Zanu PF being sincere in its refusal to securitise the land, or it’s one of its ploys to win votes ahead of the plebiscite around the corner?

Zanu PF has since 2000 used the land issue as a bait to lure voters, who are long fed up with its poor policies and unbridled corrupt tendencies. - Staff Writer

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.