silos.jpgFarmers have called on government to urgently release funding to pay for the maize produce they have delivered to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) for the country’s strategic food reserves saying the delay in payment is hindering their farming preparations ahead of the summer farming season.

Farmers who spoke to ZBC News have raised concerns on the delay in the releasing of funds to pay them for their maize produce, arguing that this has complicated their situation as they are failing to pay their bills and to buy farming inputs on time.

ZFU vice president, Mr. Berean Mukwende said his organisation has received a number of complaints with regards to the payment of farmers’ produce and urged responsible authorities to deal with the issue as a matter of urgency.

Minister of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development, Dr Joseph Made has already admitted that government has failed farmers saying the onus now lies with the Ministry of Finance to ensure that farmers get what they are owed before it is too late.

Since the formation of the inclusive government, commercial farmers have not received any support from government, with Finance Minister Tendai Biti showing reluctance in supporting agriculture.

Meanwhile, farmers have raised concern over the prices of agricultural inputs this season and have called on government to re-introduce subsidies to ensure the nation’s food security.

maize seed.jpgAs the 2011-2012 agricultural season approaches, for the first time in more than a decade, inputs such as seed, chemicals and fertilisers are in abundance.

But farmers say the inputs are not affordable.

Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union second vice president, Mr. Berean Mukwende also confirmed that the price of fertiliser has this year marginally risen.

On the other hand, maize seed prices have gone down from last year’s price of US$23 to US$20 per 10kg.

A 25kg bag of maize seed is enough to plant a one hectare piece of land.

The same piece of land requires 700kg of fertiliser of both Compound D and top dressing to achieve the seven to eight tonne production output per hectare.

With fertiliser going at an average price of US$33 per 50 kilogrammes, a farmer needs to fork out around US$548 per hectare not including labour, pesticides and herbicides.