Farmers need more resources: ZCFU

Local farmers are well informed about best farming practices and climatic conditions but lack the necessary resources to ensure a successful season, according to Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union President, Wonder Chabikwa.

As the 2013/14 agricultural season begins, questions have been raised about the farmers’ preparedness for changing climatic conditions. However, Chabikwa is confident that information has been successfully passed on to farmers.

“Agritex officials are working well with farmers. Information is also coming from the seed houses and farmer unions,” he said. Chabikwa said that the forecast of a good rainfall season had given farmers new hope.

“We are coming out of a very bad season but the news of a normal to above normal rain season has reinvigorated farmers’ hopes,” he said.

The ZCFU president said he was expecting positive news on inputs before the end of September. In some parts of the country farmers have welcomed new methods taught by Agritex officials.

In Shurugwi, a method known as ‘dig and eat’ has become very popular. The technique seeks to preserve moisture while making use of locally available materials. Although the process is labour intensive, it is proving to be effective for some farmers.

“With reasonable rainfall you get a massive harvest. The process calls for the use of mulching to make sure the soil does not lose its moisture,” said a local farmer.

He said inputs for the programme were coming through the local Agritex office. “The inputs are not given to individuals but to groups who then share them,” he said.

Another farmer in his late twenties from Mazowe said he wanted information on financing of agriculture. “I am in the process of setting up a commercial farming venture in the area and the biggest constraint is capital,” he said.

He said he lost his job at the beginning of 2012 but was fortunate to get access to land through “some connections”.

“This is a serious thing for me but there is no clarity on how farmers can access affordable financing for their projects,” he said.

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