winterwheat1.jpgThe 2011 winter wheat season got underway recently with stakeholders converging in Harare raising farmers’ hopes that this season could be different in terms of inputs mobilisation as banks, farmer unions and government pledged their support to ensure maximum production.

However, the situation on the ground indicates that it is back to the same old story of shortage of inputs to start planting.

As preparations for the winter wheat season gets underway, the country appears to be poised for yet another disaster in wheat production as the bulk of farmers both in the greenbelts  and other areas are predicting a poor season due to shortage of inputs.

 

What irks the farmers more is that recently farmer unions, banks, government and other strategic stakeholders held a round table meeting to iron out some of the challenges that have affected wheat production in the past.

 

But almost two months after the strategic meeting, farmers are still crying foul over the non-availability of the promised credit facility announced by government and erratic supplies of electricity.

 

Former Zimbabwe Farmers Union President, Cde Edward Raradza said while most farmers have prepared their land, they are now uncertain as whether to plant, as they are used to being short changed by the power utility especially at critical times when they need power the most.

Cde Raradza said government has promised farmers subsidised inputs from GMB depots but the grain reserve entity is instead selling inputs, a development which is not viable considering that they also need finance for diesel and other resources.

One of the biggest farmers in Seke District Mutemi Zishiri also expressed concern over the serious shortage of inputs saying it has become unviable for most farmers to grow winter wheat adding that most wheat farmers might not grow the crop if the situation is not addressed.

 

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union President, Macdonald Khumalo who admitted that all is not well in the provision of inputs under the government scheme said due to uncertainties that come with such credit schemes, the union has put in place a three million dollar loan facility that will see its members accessing inputs.

Of major concern to farmers is that, the season is already in full swing yet the government credit scheme appears not to be working while the Kariba power station maintenance programme is expected to go for two more months.

Observers feel that it will be a waste of time and resources for farmers to plant as the crop will not germinate without normal irrigation cycles.

 

So the ball is now in government’s court again to quickly re-engage key stakeholders in the provision of inputs, electricity and other critical resources and come up with plan B as any further delay in doing so could see most farmers failing to grow the crop.