Andile Tshuma, Business Reporter
FARMERS have been warned against buying counterfeit maize seed at a time when official seed shops have increased prices.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Rural Settlement has said farmers need to be vigilant when purchasing seed as counterfeit products thrive when genuine products are beyond the reach of many.
Speaking in a telephone interview yesterday, Matabeleland North head provincial agricultural, technical and extension services, Mr Dumisani Nyoni, advised farmers to buy seed from reputable and registered seed dealers.
“We are entering our farming season and this is a time when a lot of counterfeit seed is sold to people. While we cannot get rid of counterfeit products on the streets, farmers can protect themselves by being on the lookout and buying seed only from reputable dealers,” he said.
“Buying from the streets and other dingy places puts farmers at risk of buying ordinary maize that has been painted to look like maize seed, which can cost a farmer an entire yield.”
Mr Nyoni urged farmers to start clearing and cultivating fields as the rainy season had come. The first rains in Matabeleland South and other provinces are expected today, according to the Meteorological services Department (MSD).
Mr Nyoni said normal to above normal rainfall was expected for the first half of the rain season with the second half characterised by normal to below normal rains. As such he said a dry spell was looming from January 2020 to the end of the farming season and encouraged farmers to conserve water.
“We are expecting normal to above normal rainfall between October and December 2019 and are expecting normal to below normal rains from January 2019 to the end of our rainy season,” he said.
Mr Nyoni urged farmers to plant drought tolerant crops such as sorghum, millet and rapoko, particularly in the southern region of the country, which is more prone to drought. Farmers are also urged to stagger planting their crops, to avoid losing an entire crop in the case of erratic rains.
“Dry spells are looming and we, therefore, urge farmers to find ways of retaining moisture in the fields. Conservation farming or zero tillage can be used, and farmers can also put ridges in farms so that water does not flow out of the field, but sink to the ground,” said Mr Nyoni.
“Farmers must use seed varieties that take a shorter time to mature, especially the 90 to 115-day seed varieties, as we are expecting the rainy season to end prematurely with lower rains in the second half of the season,” said Mr Nyoni.
There has been an outcry over the high price of seed maize in the past few weeks. Some shops are reported to be selling seed in foreign currency. — @andile_tshuma