MORE than 500 000 farmers registered under the Climate-Proofed Presidential Inputs Scheme have already received inputs for the forthcoming summer cropping season as the Government ramps up preparations for what is being touted as a historic season.
Nearly two million smallholder farmers will receive Government support, in the form of seed and fertilisers, under the scheme.
The rest of the farmers will receive their inputs by November 15, after the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development released funding for transportation of the inputs directly to farmers.
In addition, the Government has already ring-fenced 15 million litres of fuel for farmers contracted under the National Enhanced Productivity Programme (Command Agriculture) while farmers have already begun receiving support from banks.
Authorities are now finalising distribution modalities for the fuel to ensure that all participating farmers receive their allocations before the onset of the rainy season.
Lands, Agriculture Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka told The Sunday Mail that the level of preparedness for the forthcoming season is unprecedented.
He said the distribution of inputs through the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) was going on seamlessly.
“For the Pfumvudza programme we started distributing to the 1,2 million households out of the expected 1,8 million that have already done their Pfumvudza plots,” said Dr Masuka.
“And we think that everyone else will be able to complete preparations by the 31st of October. We aim to complete the distribution of all inputs by the 15th of November.
“As we speak all the GMB depots are busy distributing inputs, so we have never been this prepared. The season is predicted to be better in terms of rainfall so we have to be prepared so that we can lay a firm foundation for a food secure Zimbabwe.”
He said the Government has already started providing support to cotton farmers, with nearly half of the inputs required for the season having been secured.
“We have never been this well prepared; in fact yesterday (Friday) we launched the Presidential Cotton Input Scheme where 45 percent of all the inputs are available, which is unprecedented in recent history.
“In terms of input distribution, we are somewhere in the region 25 – 30 percent complete for the Pfumvudza programme and as I have said 45 percent of the inputs for the cotton sector have been secured,” Dr Masuka said.
Farmers contracted under the NEPP will soon begin receiving their fuel allocations.
“But there is also the Command Agriculture side of things, which we now call the National Enhanced Productivity Programme where farmers can go to banks and receive loans,” the Minister said.
“Fuel for these farmers has also been ring-fenced; we are looking at 15 million litres just for land preparations which should be available by about the 15th of November.
“We are working out an arrangement so that farmers throughout the country can easily access that fuel so that they can spend more time on the farms.”
Dr Masuka said farmers should only start planting on the advice of the Meteorological Services Department.
“For the commencement of planting, we will be guided, of course, by the Met Department because the season has not yet started and we encourage farmers to focus on land preparation and when the season has started they will be guided accordingly,” he said.
Over 1,8 million farmers have received training through the Pfumvudza Conservation Agriculture Programme under which they will practice climate-proofed agriculture underpinned by support from an army of agriculture extension workers.
Beneficiaries are also expected to have three plots; one for maize, another for traditional crops and another for oil seeds.
Over 1.5 million hectares have been set aside for cropping with a target of over 3.6 million tonnes of maize.
Zimbabwe is forecast to receive between normal to above normal rainfall starting sometime this month.
GMB general manager Mr Rockie Mutenha told The Sunday Mail that funding received from Treasury will increase the pace of distribution of inputs to farmers.
“GMB is receiving maize seed, basal fertiliser and top dressing fertilisers from suppliers and we are distributing them as we receive them,” said Mr Mutenha.
“The Ministry of Finance has also given us funding to transport the inputs to farmers and that is going to speed up the distribution.
“Before we had received that budget the suppliers would bring the inputs to our depots and then the local leadership would then have to organise transportation of the inputs to the wards.
“But now that we have funding we are now responsible for transporting the inputs directly to the wards.
“We are currently engaging transporters to start distributing as soon as possible. This will obviously increase the pace of distribution.”