Matabeleland North communal farmers have now harvested up to 80% of their crops from the 2016-17 summer cropping season but commercial farmers are lagging behind due to challenges in accessing the necessary equipment.

The maize crop that was planted in December has been harvested while the crop that was planted in January and February still has a moisture level of between 15 and 25%.

The farmers are already moving the grain to their homes before transporting it to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

Delays have also been caused by the new requirements that farmers grade their crops in the fields so that the quality that is delivered to the GMB meets the standards.

Matabeleland North Provincial Crop and Livestock Officer, Mr Dumisani Nyoni said due to challenges caused by the fall army worm during the summer cropping season, 150 tonnes of maize that did not meet the grade has already been sold to stock feeding companies.

“We need to speed up the harvesting especially with our commercial farmers. At ARDA Jotsholo, there has been delays because they had to wait for a combine harvester from Matabeleland South Province and that forced them to harvest manually,” he said.

Although the harvesting of round and ground nuts has been completed, the delays is the harvesting of maize, small grain crops and sugar beans is already affecting the planting of the winter crop in the province.