A push for maize incentives

The government should introduce incentives for maize farmers to ensure food security, according to Wonder Chabikwa, President of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union.

As maize production declines, organisations such as the Red Cross have to distribute handouts.
As maize production declines, organisations such as the Red Cross have to distribute handouts.

Maize production has been badly affected by changing climatic conditions and there is a fear that farmers will abandon the crop and move into tobacco farming.

This year’s tobacco selling season ended with a total of 163 million kg sold under both the contract and auction system. The crop brought in more than $600 million and there has been a rise in demand on the Asian market.

“Our major crops must be food crops such as maize and smaller grains. We don’t have enough food in the country and therefore we expect incentives for food crops,” he said.

Chabikwa said the country needed 1,7 million hectares under maize compared to the 850,000 hectares planted last season. He said without incentives farmers could not be blamed for focusing on crops that made them money. Maize farmers have also suffered from serious delays in payments from the Grain Marketing Board.

The ZCFU president called for the introduction of measures such as low interest loans specifically aimed at maize production.

“If we get low interest loans for farmers it would make the production of maize feasible,” he said. Farming organisations recently slammed the country’s level of preparedness for the 2013 to 2014 agricultural season.

Banks are facing severe liquidity constraints and their lending capacity is limited. Farmers cannot afford inputs and the price of fertiliser is too much for most of them.

Last year more than 1,6 million Zimbabweans were in need of food assistance following poor harvests in the country.

Farmers recently said the government announced price of $378 per tonne of maize was not enough to restore the continued viability of the production of the crop. They said $378 was not even enough to cover the cost of production which stood at $380 per tonne.

Post published in: News
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