Another bleak farming season looms as inputs prices soar

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By Alois Vinga

FARMERS have threatened to reduce their hectarage citing high input costs, a move that could perpetuate Zimbabwe’s struggles with food shortages.

In interviews with Business on the sidelines of the just ended Zimbabwe Agricultural Show, several farmers said their plans for the coming season have been hampered by exorbitant prices of seed, fertliser and farming equipment.

“I come from Mashonaland Central and specialise in horticulture. In my area, a 50 kg bag of Ammonium Nitrate and Compound D is currently being sold at $390 while 5kgs of maize seed is going for around $150. Under the circumstances as farmers we are appealing to government for urgent intervention as we are already incapacitated to effectively plan,” said one Prisca Mpofu.

Another farmer from Mashonaland West, Beaulah Chimhini who specialises in yellow maize farming, also expressed similar concerns and appealed for authorities to intervene.

“In our area, a 50kg bag of fertiliser is being sold at between $390 to $410 and in some instances the retail outlets are demanding US$30.What we fear is that by the time the farming season sets in, the prices will be much higher and this will affect the season’s total produce output,” Chimhini told Business.

However, a visit by Business to several retail outlets in Harare showed that the implements were being sold at prices much lower than those suggested by farmers who operate in provinces.

At most shops, a 50kg bag of Ammonium Nitrate and Compound D is being sold at betwen $250 and $220 respectively while a 10kgs bag of maize seed is going for $109.

At the Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company factory shop, Ammonium Nitrate and Compound D Fertiliser of the same quantity is being sold for $274.

A litre of herbicides used for weed killing is selling at prices ranging from $80 upwards indicating that costs seem to go up beyond the cities likely due to the transport factor.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union director, Jeremiah Tevera singled out unfair business practices and ongoing economic reforms as major reasons behind the increases.

“While we are working flat out as a union to engage the relevant authorities over the price increases, we would like to urge business to desist from profiteering and bear in mind that farmers are there to benefit everyone.

“At the same time the ongoing economic reforms have partly contributed to the current shifts and if these factors are not addressed on time, yields in the next season are going to be lower than expected,” Tevera said.

The ZCFU boss also urged government to make key announcements on time and desist from making knee-jerk changes that affect the economy.