THE Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) yesterday predicted another poor agricultural season citing shoddy preparations for the current planting season caused by a shortage of inputs and working capital.
CFU president Charles Taffs said most farmers failed to get loans to purchase inputs due to the prevalent liquidity crunch. He said most likely the country would experience lower yields next year compared to the 2012-2013 period.
“We are not prepared at all for the 2013-2014 farming season,” Taffs said.
“Due to persistent liquidity crunch, we could not get money to purchase inputs and this means we are likely to have worse farming season than last year,” he added.
Taffs said the tightening liquidity crunch spelt doom for most farmers considering the high cost of production.
Zimbabwe this year experienced a serious maize deficit, forcing it to import grain after harvesting only 750 000 metric tonnes of maize.
The government imported 150 000 metric tonnes of maize from Zambia to cover for the deficit, with some of the maize already distributed especially in the southern parts of the country, ranked as the hardest hit.
Taffs said the anticipated poor farming season was also expected to exert pressure on the fiscus as the government would be forced to import more grain next year to compensate for the food deficit.
The Agriculture deputy ministers Paddy Zhanda and David Murapira recently told farmers in Bulawayo that the government would next year suspend the importation of grain to support local production as part of plans to reduce the country’s ballooning import bill recorded at $3,9 billion as of August this year.
But Taffs said it was impossible for the government to completely suspend imports next year with the anticipated poor farming season.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union president Wonder Chapikwa, despite hoping for a better farming season next year, bemoaned the tight liquidity conditions adding that few farmers managed to secure funding from banks this year.
“We might have a better farming season next year with the metrological department projections that we are likely to have normal to above normal rainfall, but most farmers failed to access funding,” Chapikwa said.
Chapikwa said some farmers had started planting although there was a delay in the starting of the season.
The organisation this year had embarked on potato farming project which, however, has failed due to lack of funding.
Chapikwa said there were still working on market research and would next year approach Agribank to consider loaning them money for the project.
The potato project was to compensate for the food deficit this year due to a poor farming season.