Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
THE Government has trained 715 000 farmers countrywide for conservation farming popularly known as Pfumvudza with most farmers already registering for the Presidential Inputs Scheme.
This comes as input suppliers and manufacturers have expressed their readiness for the 2020 summer cropping season.
Some farmers have already started procuring seed and fertilisers with others expressing concern over the high prices which they said will increase production costs and erode viability of farming.
Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement secretary Dr John Basera confirmed that preparations for the 2020 summer season were on course.
He said the Presidential Inputs scheme will this year prioritise farmers who would have adopted the Pfumvudza concept.
“So far 715 000 farmers have been trained on Pfumvudza. We have had an overwhelming response to the concept. There is tremendous progress on such critical activities such as holing out (preparing planting basins), mulch harvesting, liming and manure accumulation,” he said.
Dr Basera said the concept which was aimed at climate proofing agriculture was going to boost household food security and nutrition and also growth of the rural economy.
“Farmers will be able to be food self-sufficient with surplus contributing towards the strategic grain reserve. We are promoting farming as a business.
Meanwhile, seed houses have started distribution to retail outlets and some farming areas.
Syngenta head of marketing, Mr Tawanda Mangisi yesterday said they had stocked seed in all their traditional outlets in major towns and growth points closer to the farmers.
“We are quite prepared for the seasons and we are confident that we have enough seed in stock for farmers and Government schemes. We also have a new variety which is a short-term hybrid that is drought-tolerant,” he said.
Agriseeds sales and marketing director and agronomist Mr Ivan Craig said they had started distributing seed to farming areas.
“Our factories are on full throttle already we have started taking the seed to the market and we accept multi-currency for farmers’ convenience.
“We are shortening distances for farmers by delivering closer to farming areas as part of our efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19,” he said.
SeedCo Group head of public relations Ms Marjorie Mutemererwa said there was zero disturbances to production.
“Our agronomists are on the ground to assist farmers make the correct choice in buying seed. We have started distributing the seed to shops,” she said.
Fertiliser industry spokesman, Mr Tapiwa Mashingaidze said in terms of supply, materials were available and they did not anticipate shortages.
“We are ready for the season. Some companies are producing fertiliser and we are happy that Government programmes will also help us boost our market.
“We have raw materials in bonded warehouses and we need foreign currency to access them. A lot of our raw materials are imported so we need foreign currency,” he said.
Mr Mashingaidze said some of the fertilisers in stock were under the collateral management (CMA).
CMA is material that would have been produced by the manufacturers using own resources with part of raw materials supplied by their partners.
Manufacturers will have to pay foreign currency before they can get access to the raw materials.
Mr Mashingaidze said fertiliser manufacturers were now relying on the auction system to access foreign currency and this was not easy as they required more RTGS to buy foreign currency.
“Companies are struggling to get enough RTGS and there may be need for capacitation by Government. There should be a special arrangement for fertilisers manufactures,” he said.
Mr Mashingaidze said the industry used to rely on allocations by Government, but now the new system meant that they had to compete for foreign currency with other sectors.
“There are chances of losing out to other bidders.
“There is also an issue of priority for instance medicine and fuel. If we bid at the highest rate, this means the fertiliser will be expensive. We hope there will be some form of subsidies,” he said.
Government recently revealed that Presidential Input Scheme inputs have almost been completely procured and should start going to the provinces as of late August.