Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
FARMERS have so far delivered more than one million metric tonnes of maize, wheat, traditional grains and soya beans to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) after the country recorded a bumper harvest in the last agriculture season.
The positive yields have been attributed to improvement in hectarage and early inputs distribution, especially under the Presidential Inputs programmes, training of farmers, empowerment and capacitation of extension workers and robust monitoring and evaluation as dictated by the Agricultural Recovery Plan.
The introduction of conservation agriculture popularly known as Pfumvudza/Intwasa also motivated some poorly resourced farmers who did not have draught power after losing their oxen to tick-borne diseases or drought.
The early distribution of inputs resulted in most farmers who rely on rain-fed agriculture planting with the first rains.
In her post Cabinet briefing yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said as of Sunday, grain intake stood at 1 164 274 metric tonnes comprising 83 684 metric tonnes of wheat and 1 080 590 metric tonnes of maize, soybeans and traditional grain.
“Cabinet received an update on the wheat marketing and summer crops production season, which was presented by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Honourable Dr Anxious Masuka,” she said.
“The nation is advised that as at the 24 October 2021, Grain intake stood at 1 164 274 metric tonnes, comprising 83 684 metric tonnes of wheat and 1 080 590 metric tonnes of maize, soyabeans and traditional grains.”
The Government is providing money to pay farmers for crops delivered to GMB and Cottco. Regarding farmer payments, the minister said a total of $ 1 billion was received from the Treasury last week and cumulative receipts now amount to $3,059 billion. Grain delivered to date is valued at $ 40, 574 billion, giving an outstanding balance of $4,51 billion.
Minister Mutsvangwa said preparations for the summer cropping season are now at an advanced stage with all inputs including seed and fertilizer available.
“On CBZ Agro-Yield/Command Agriculture Programme preparations for the summer cropping season, the nation is advised that currently CBZ Agro-Yield has 18 000 metric tonnes and 15 000 metric tonnes of basal and top-dressing fertilizers, respectively. Seed is adequately available,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She urged farmers to collect seed from SeedCo and K2 companies.
“CBZ is in the process of finalising inputs supply agreements with Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) Seeds, Syngenta and Torcek,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
On planting of tobacco, some 105 528 farmers have registered for the 2021/22 tobacco season compared to 102 098 farmers that had registered at the same time last year, representing a three percent increase. The area planted is 28 percent above that planted last year, because of an enlarged irrigated crop.
Meanwhile, seed cotton marketing has tailed-off with very few common buying points still to conclude transactions. Seed cotton deliveries to the six contractors have reached 132 132 384 kg compared to 83 059 898 kg last year, representing a 59, 1 percent increase.
The value of the seed cotton delivered to date is $6.384 billion. The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) has paid a total of $2,9 billion to farmers, including US$ 3 912 500. Payments to date are 39 percent of total requirement.
Minister Mutsvangwa said farmers are yet to be paid a total of $3, 4 billion for seed cotton delivered to Cottco during the 2020/2021 season.
“As at 25 October 2021, Treasury had availed $500 million towards payment of cotton farmers. The payment process has been set in motion,” she said.
Regarding the Presidential Climate-Proofed Cotton Pfumvudza/Intwasa Scheme for the 2021/2022 season, the trained farmers are 36 percent of the targeted 520 000 growers. Outstanding payments are slowing uptake of cotton production.
“Measures are being put in place to expedite input deliveries, in particular the first tranche comprising seed, basal fertilizer and chemicals,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.