|Matabeleland North farming collapsing|
|Monday, 09 July 2012 10:33|
Government says farming in Matabeleland North Province is on the brink of collapse owing to failure by farmers to access credit facilities as well as low returns from the summer cropping season due to drought.
The dry spell that hit most parts of the province during the summer cropping season saw most farmers failing to obtain a meaningful harvest and returns, a situation which affected farmers who were hoping to reinvest their returns in other farming activities such as potato production.
Matabeleland North Provincial Agricultural Extension Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Dumisani Nyoni said it is evident that farmers are struggling as part of their land remain unutilised due to inadequate resources to put them to use in adding potato farming which is mainly concentrated in Umguza.
Irrigation is the worst affected so far as it has high production costs that include electricity, labour and water with one hectare requiring nearly US$3 000.
“The issue of the cost of providing electricity of late and the issue of realising some benefits in money to pay labour have been serious challenges. A lot of farmers are on the brink of collapse as it were and you will see that the symptoms are more and more fields that go unploughed during this season,” said Mr. Nyoni.
The farmers had targeted the month of July since temperatures would have improved and taken into consideration that by the time they reach maturity, it will almost be Christmas time when the market prices will be higher due to an increase in demand expected during the period.
A 10 kg of potatoes currently costs between US$7 and US$12 depending on the market forces of supply and demand, as well as the availability of potatoes from South Africa which are usually cheaper.