HARARE: Zimbabwean seed producers have cut the prices of their products following an outcry from farmers and representations by the government.
The producers more than doubled their prices last week, citing unfavourable operating conditions.
A snap survey by Xinhua on Wednesday showed that prices have been down drastically, although they remained high for many farmers.
One leading seed producer cut the price of medium-season variety of maize seed from 250.82 Zimbabwean bond dollars per 25 kg bag to 138 dollars, while prices for a 10 kg bag of the same variety went down from 100 dollars to 55 dollars.
Despite the reduction, farmers on Wednesday said the prices are still too high and production would be adversely affected.
A bag of maize seed, now costing 55 dollars, was selling for 25 U.S. dollars last season.
Zimbabwean monetary authorities peg the bond dollars at 1:1 to the U.S. dollar, but the greenback is sold at more than twice the bond dollar on the black market.
President of the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union Abdul Nyathi told Xinhua on Wednesday that the price cuts are not enough and small-holder farmers still cannot afford to plant in the coming season.
“Take for instance the 10 kg bag of maize, which was selling at around 25 dollars last season. The same now costs 55 dollars, and this is double last season’s price,” he said. “A lot of people are saying this is not sustainable and they will not go back on the land to farm.”
He also said the producers had only reduced prices of short- and medium-season variety seeds and left the high yielding longer-term varieties untouched.
“Farmers prefer the long-term varieties because they have higher yields, but the producers left the prices very high. Wait and see if anyone will buy those seeds,” he said.
Prices of fertilizers also went down, with a 50 kg bag of top dressing going down from 80 bond dollars to 60 dollars, while basal fertilizer went down from 75 dollars to 55 dollars. Both fertilizers cost less than 40 dollars last season.