The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) has commended the government for unveiling the potato seed input as it will promote the consumption of locally produced potatoes in the country.
ZCFU President, Mr Donald Khumalo said the initiative taken by government will reduce production costs for potato farmers who will not have to import the seed from other countries, hence making them cheaper for the consumers.
He said the move will also see a reduction in the importation of genetically modified products which continue to flood the market at a cheaper price, thus putting local farmers at a disadvantage as their products are a bit expensive to produce.
He added that the development will also assist in managing food deficit levels at a time the country is facing a looming drought following erratic and poor rainfall patterns this agricultural season.
â€œOf late, the Minister [of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Dr Joseph Made] has been talking of assisting the potato sector which by and large has not been assisted. I think that spirit will see an increase of potato production in the country and maybe a reduction of imports, which are currently flooding the market,â€ Mr Khumalo said.
Potato seed is currently pegged at US$3000 for a hectare which yields between 40 and 50 tonnes of potatoes.
The government initiative, which is expected to result in higher production levels, comes amid concerns that the high seed production costs have been making it difficult for new players to penetrate the sector hence the loophole that has been allowing foreign producers to dominate the local market.