MP blames govt for fertiliser shortage

Fertiliser manufacturing companies failed to meet the 2013-2014 agriculture inputs requirement due to huge sums of money owed by government.

Ringson Chitsiko
Ringson Chitsiko

Member of Parliament, Priscah Mupfumira, told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Gender and Development this week that lack of fertiliser might expose the nation to starvation despite the good rainy season and hard work by farmers across the country.

She said it would be wrong for people to blame power outages for poor harvests as the blame lay squarely at the government’s doorstep.

The outspoken woman legislator probed the Ministry of Agriculture about its preparedness to assist new farmers acquire farm equipment from Brazil and how the nation’s preparations for the winter wheat season.

She warned that if government continued to fail farmers, food and nutrition – the pillar of Zim Asset – would crumble.

Ringson Chitsiko, the permanent secretary for agriculture, blamed the fertiliser shortages on late production schedules by suppliers and said preparations should be done in time and government should improve its production management.

Fertiliser wrecks soil

Chitsiko said Zimbabwe should learn from ‘normal economies’ such as those of Zambia and South Africa where inputs were readily available throughout the year, saying there was need for advanced planning on the part of both the government and farmers.

Farmers needed a total 81,000 tonnes of compound D and 8,000 tonnes of top dressing Ammonium Nitrate for the past season, but only 35,200 tonnes of D, 47 %, was available, and only 43% of the AN.

To counter the shortage, Chitsiko encouraged farmers to apply organic manure such as compost to the soil. Given the deterioration of the soil, Chitsiko recommended that it be made mandatory for every farmer to apply lime before planting. “Government should put in place laws which forbid farmers from planting crop without the application of lime,” he said, pointing out that most soils had become unproductive due to continued application of compound fertilisers.

It was revealed that the government was negotiating with Brazil for provision of farm equipment, ranging from tractors to irrigation piping, to smallholder farmers. This would be accessed through bank loans. According to Chitsiko, no collateral would be needed save for proof that one is a genuine smallholder farmer.

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