Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe

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Agriculture

GMB pays 95% of farmers

GMB pays 95% of farmers

 
GRAIN Marketing Board (GMB) Bulawayo says it has paid 95% of farmers who delivered grain to its depots amid concern it is facing challenges settling the remaining 5%, whose accounts are not in order.

 

BY SHARON SIBINDI

Speaking at a media tour, southern region manager, Podiso Mafa said in the past season, the institution recorded several success stories.

“We have paid 95% of the farmers and bulk of the queries are from farmers who had EcoCash. Some farmers stay in remote areas and they bank once and others’ accounts are dormant, while some have EcoCash challenges.

“The government has been so good to us and GMB still has the money to pay the remaining 5%,” she said.

Mafa said Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe released $36 million for grain acquisition in 2017/18.

“As of Friday last week, our local grain intake stood just above 1,2 million tonnes. Going forward, we believe the success of last season has positioned us well to continue on this growth trajectory,” she said.

Mafa said the 2018/19 marketing season has already started and they were ready to receive grain deliveries.

Farmers bank on late planted maize crop

Farmers bank on late planted maize crop

 

Wimbainashe Zhakata Mutare Bureau
CROPS that were planted between October and November last year were the worst affected by the mid-season dry spell in Manicaland, Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union provincial manager Mr Daniel Mungazi has said.

Mr Mungazi told The Herald that crops planted between December and January had a better chance of reaching maturity, boosting farmers’ chances of achieving  food security.

He, however, urged farmers to use both the October-November and December-January planting windows, arguing that since weather patterns were changing on a yearly basis, there were still chances of crops from either regime making it to maturity.

“Farmers should plant in either parts of the season so that they do not lose much or totally in the event of rains turning out to be erratic or unreliable,” he explained.

Most crops in Manicaland’s driest districts, for instance, Chipinge, Mutasa and Mutare have permanently wilted leaving farmers staring at the prospects of food shortages in the face.

A programmes manager with non-governmental organiation GOAL, Mr Tinashe Tsepete, also told some development partners attending a meeting in Mutare last week farmers were facing a two-faced challenge of drought and the fall armyworm in dry areas.

Mr Mungazi echoed similar sentiments, saying the fall armyworm was scattered in every district of Zimbabwe and cited Chaguta Farm in Chipinge as an example of one locality where crops have been seriously damaged by the pest.

“To control fall armyworm, farmers should use chemicals recommended by Agritex and mix them properly so that they do not continue to lose their crops. They should try to detect the fall armyworm at an early stage through scouting,” he said.

Mr Mungazi also urged farmers to keep livestock just in case crops do not perform well. Crops such as tobacco were also affected through stunted growth and false ripening of the leaves but were quick to respond to the rains, which ignited the hopes of many farmers in the province and across other parts of Zimbabwe.

Fall armyworm leaves trail of destruction in Zaka

Fall armyworm leaves trail of destruction in Zaka

 

Sydney Mubaiwa in Zaka
A fall armyworm outbreak has left a trail of destruction in Zaka, amid growing fears that the pest has affected over 20 percent of the district’s maize crop.

The outbreak has dampened morale among farmers in the drought-prone district, who were hoping to capitalise on recent rains to salvage something from a season that appeared destined for disaster after a prolonged dry spell at the beginning of this year, that left crops severely moisture-stressed.

Zaka District Agritex officer Mr Esau Mutuzungari said although they were still assessing the extent of the damage caused by the fall armyworm, the pest had destroyed the maize crop in most parts of the district.

“We are very worried that the fall armyworm has severely affected the maize crop in most parts of the district. Farmers who planted their maize crop late this season have been the most affected.’’

“What is even more frightening is that the worm is resistant to chemicals and this will severely affect aggregate maize output in Zaka at the end of the season because from our estimates at the moment, the pest has affected about 20 percent of the maize crop across the district,’’ he said.

Farmers at the Fuve-Panganai Irrigation Scheme, who grow hybrid maize seed under irrigation mainly for export, have also not been spared by the fall armyworm pest, though efforts are underway to mitigate effects of the outbreak by plotholders.

Some of the farmers in the district appealed for Government intervention. Mr Farai Makuchete, a communal farmer from Zaka East said Government should help them combat the fall armyworm scourge to avert disaster.

“The Government should undertake comprehensive assessments to establish the full impact of the pest on crop production and farmer’s livelihoods.

“This sudden appearance of the fall armyworm should be a cause for concern to crop protection authorities. They must also react urgently to rescue the affected farmers,’’ he said.

Siltation a threat to irrigation: Shiri

Siltation a threat to irrigation: Shiri

 

Siltation a threat to irrigation: Shiri Minister Shiri

Sydney Mubaiwa in Zaka
Government has implored farmers to desist from poor farming practices that are causing siltation in some of the country’s major dams and threatening the ongoing irrigation development thrust.

Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Retired Chief Air Marshal Perrance Shiri also apportioned the blame for an increase in siltation of rivers and dams on unscrupulous traditional leaders, who were promoting illegal settlements in their areas of jurisdiction.

Addressing Zaka farmers at Fuve-Panganai Irrigation Scheme recently, Minister Shiri said practices such as stream bank cultivation promoted siltation of rivers and dams that provide water for irrigation. He said the continued siltation would affect agricultural production in the future.

“Stream bank cultivation is a cause for concern to farmers and law enforcement agencies. The practice must be brought to an end by bringing culprits to book because it (siltation) has an effect on dams levels.

In our country, irrigation has often been cited as a long-term solution to food security, but siltation in our dams and other water bodies derails Government plans to make sure the country attains food self-sufficiency through irrigation”, he said.

Minister Shiri implored the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and Agritex officers to be on the lookout for farmers who continue embarking on stream bank cultivation.

Most major and small dams in Zaka have been severely affected by rampant siltation owing to population pressure and poor farming practices in the catchment areas.

Zimbabwe is slowly shifting towards irrigation to attain food self-sufficiency in the wake of recurrent droughts caused by climate change.

Wet spell will salvage farming season

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Wet spell will salvage farming season

 

Wet spell

The Government announced at the beginning of this month that it was launching a national crop and livestock assessment.

The announcement, by Cde Davis Marapira, the Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement on January 30, came amid a dry spell that started around Boxing Day last year and had caused some 30 percent of the maize crop to reach permanent wilting stage.

Farmers were beginning to lose hope. The Government was also getting uneasy over the high temperatures and their implications for food security and economic wellbeing for our agro-based economy. The general people were also getting worried. Experts were inquiring about the state of the strategic grain reserve.

The situation was so bad that even in Mashonaland region which traditionally receives abundant rainfall, was dry as well. In Rushinga in Mashonaland Central for example 10 percent of the planted maize had reached permanent wilting stage. Tobacco was also showing signs of false ripening.

In Masvingo, Midlands, southern Manicaland, Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North provinces small grains were moisture-stressed with maize wilting. In Mwenezi and Chiredzi districts in Masvingo, farmers had started considering mobilising supplementary feeding for their livestock as their pastures were getting depleted.

However, a few days into this month, the situation improved with much rainfall falling all over the country. It has been raining effectively non-stop since then. The heavy rainfall has actually caused flash floods in some high density suburbs in Bulawayo. In Mt Darwin in Mashonaland Central Province floods have marooned 85 pupils from Zingore Primary School since Monday when a nearby river burst its banks.

In Muzarabani in the same province, 31 huts and 34 blair toilets were destroyed. In the Glendale area of Mazowe District, also in Mashonaland Central Province, several houses were last week flooded with water mixed with sewage due to a poor drainage system. In Rushinga District, seven gold panners were marooned at the confluence of Mazowe and Nyadire rivers from February 4 to 5.

It has been a dramatic turn of events which is most welcome. We thank God for the rains.  He has demonstrated His power and exposed the weaknesses that are inherent in humans as many of us were beginning to lose hope and fretting about our future, a future which we, needless to say, we have no control over.

The season has been salvaged so we are now looking forward to a decent harvest, not a drought that we feared was going to hit us.

The Government is urging farmers who lost their crops to the dry spell to try planting short season varieties, small grains or sugar beans.

“We urge farmers to continue planting summer crops as the rains continue to fall across the country. Some should adjust to short term varieties such as the two and three maize series and small grains such as sorghum. This is also the right time to plant beans and we will be assured of a better harvest,” we quote Cde Marapira as saying elsewhere in this issue.

It is possible for farmers to start planting at this time, he said, because the rains are projected to continue up to April or May.

“The current rainy season is likely going to go into April or May meaning that moisture in the ground can feed the crops till they mature,” he said.

With the rains falling, some farmers are, unfortunately, facing a risk of heavy leaching of their fields. If the rains continue and leaching continues, growers might realise smaller harvests.

However, as Cde Marapira advises, growers whose fields are sandy, hence prone to leaching need to invest in and apply top dressing fertiliser. They also need to enhance weed and pest control measures for weeds and pests tend to blossom during prolonged wet conditions.

Livestock farmers will certainly be relieved that the pastures that were under pressure so early into the year have now recovered.  We are optimistic that they will be sufficient to take their livestock to the next rainy season.

But as every livestock producer must always know, incessant rains, while they are important in boosting pastures can result in an outbreak of diseases and some parasites.

As the rains are heavy and persistent there is a possibility that they can expose anthrax spores that can infect animals in larger numbers.  Ticks are often a problem in the prevailing conditions as well and can be a bigger problem if the rains persist. The pests can cause tick-borne diseases such as January disease, heart water and red water. Lumpy skin disease is a possible challenge too.

Overall, we are pleased that our fears of a drought have not come to pass and instead, we are likely to have a good agricultural year. However, farmers must be vigilant for possible challenges that can arise given the obtaining weather conditions.

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