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First report of the Portfolio Committee on Lands, Land Reform Resettlement and Agriculture on the state of preparedness by the agricultural sector for the 2005/A6 summer crop
Parliament of Zimbabwe
November 02
, 2005

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Findings of the Committee
In its inquiry, your Committee looked at the following issues; availability of inputs, financial support, provision of tillage services, water and irrigation capacity utilization and the Command Agriculture Model. The findings of your Committee on the above-mentioned issues leave a lot to be desired. The agricultural sector is faced with severe constraints ranging from limited stocks of and distribution of inputs, financing, shortages of foreign currency and fuel, price controls and infrastructure development and capacity utilization, as can be seen below.

Agricultural Inputs

  1. The Ministry of Agriculture officials informed your Committee that the introduction of the Agricultural Inputs Scheme at the onset of the Land Reform Programme was not clearly explained to farmers. Up to now farmers are still not clear whether the scheme is a loan scheme or a free handout scheme. Consequently this has created a dependency syndrome in farmers. Even those farmers, who can mobilize their own resources sit by and wait for government to provide them with inputs. As a result, a lot of production time is lost because inputs under the Government Scheme are usually delivered late. It is the view of your Committee that government seriously needs to educate farmers on the nature of the Inputs Scheme and inculcate a culture of self-reliance in them. This will see farmers mobilizing their own resources and doing land preparations on time.
  2. Stakeholders in the agricultural sector noted that for the past five years there has been a decline in agricultural production due to a number of factors. This general decline has not spared the inputs sector. The current summer season is not any better from the previous seasons. Manufacturers of agricultural inputs testified to your Committee that there were limited stocks of inputs in the country for the summer season.

    Seed Maize
  3. Seed Houses informed your Committee that the industry only managed to produce a combined stock of 26 000mt of hybrid seed maize and about 4000 5000 mt of OPV seed. This gives a total of 31 000 mt of seed maize against a national requirement of 51 000mt. A deficit of 20 000 mt has to be imported urgently seeing that the summer crop season has already started. However, the importation programme has been delayed by the shortage of foreign currency. Efforts to secure foreign currency from the auction floors have been unsuccessful.

  4. The severe shortage of foreign currency, fertilizer and sub-economic prices were identified by the Seed Houses as the major contributing factors to the shortage of seeds in the country. The Sector needs foreign currency to import spares in order to refurbish machinery and boost the capacity of the sector to meet the demands of the market. At the moment, the sector is operating below capacity.

  5. Seed production is a specialized enterprise that requires adequate quantities of inputs. However, at the moment there is a shortage of fertilizer on the market and hence seed growers have to make do with what they get. This compromises yields and hence low production. Seed Houses also informed your Committee that sub- economic prices imposed by government contributed to the limited production of seeds. Seed Houses are finding it difficult to get farmers who are willing to venture into seed growing. To compound the situation, the producer prices are announced late into the season and by that time potential seed growers would have made up their minds to venture into other crop options with higher returns. As late as September when your Committee was conducting its inquiry, Seed Houses had not contracted any seed growers to produce seeds for the next season because the producer price had still not been announced. Your Committee is extremely worried that if something is not done urgently now, the country is going to experience the same problem of seed shortages next season.

  6. Your Committee was informed by Seed Houses that the available 26 000mt can only do 1 040 000 hectares. This gives a production of 1 560 000mt assuming an average yield of 1.5 t/ha against a national requirement of 2 150 000mt for both consumption and stock-feeds. Be that as it may, information supplied to your Committee by the Ministry of Agriculture (AREX) on the seed situation in the country is totally at variance with the figures given by Seed Houses. The Ministry assured your Committee that there was adequate maize seed in the country to cater for the summer crop season. The figure put forward by the ministry was 70 500 mt and the breakdown is as follows:
 

Hybrid Maize (t)

OPV Maize Seed (t)

Standard OPV (t)

Retained Maize Seed

Total Available

Seed Houses

46 900

9 950

   

56 850

AREX Contract

 

191.74

16.06

 

207.80

AREX ZUNDE

   

799.372

6.098

805.47

GMB

     

12 637.72

12 637.72

TOTAL

       

70 500.99

Source Ministry of Agriculture (AREX)

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