THE government will this year acquire 42,000 tonnes of seed maize for the 2016/2017 farming season. In a presentation read on his behalf during the second stakeholders meeting yesterday, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Ringson Chitsiko said the government is mobilising funds to support the 2016/2017 growing season by providing the required seed.
He said there was also need to enhance irrigation development in view of limitations highlighted by the past two farming seasons.
“A projected 42,000 tonnes of seed maize is expected this season which is in line with the national requirement.
“There’s need to mobilise resources to support farmers during the 2016/2017 cropping season following two consecutive poor seasons,” he said.
Yesterday’s meeting was a follow-up to a meeting which was held in January this year to carry out a comprehensive overview of humanitarian needs, gaps and challenges in the 2015/2016 drought response and initiated multi-sectoral planning for the 2016 agriculture season.
“There are huge stocks of fertilizers held by the local fertilizer industry and there is a need to assist farmers to access those inputs.
“AMA is expected to float Agro-Bills so that GMB is availed with funds to buy grains this coming marketing season,” he said.
He added that preparations for resources for 2016 farming season by the government and developing partners are at advanced stages with other projects expected to be completed soon in the irrigation sector.
“Under the PSIP Drought Emergency Projects, a total of 15 projects with total of 500 hectares can be completed within a period of six months at a total of $1,1 million to finance the rehabilitation.
“The Smallholder Irrigation Programme is being implemented in collaboration with FAO. The target is to commission 550 hectares by June and 1,200 hectares by December 2016,” he said.—BH24.