Reports coming from seed houses informing the nation that they have adequate seed to meet demand should be welcome relief to farmers who have in the couple of seasons endured shortage of seed resulting in unscrupulous dealers selling fake seed.
Representatives of seed houses last week met President Mugabe at State House where they assured him and the nation that their combined supply was more than enough to meet demand. The seed houses - Seed Co, Pannar and Pioneer - have more than 60 000 tonnes of maize seed in stock against a potential demand of 45 000 tonnes, which means the supply is outstripping demand thus erasing any thoughts of a shortage of seed for the 2012/2013 season.
The seed houses can also make extra money by exporting the surplus seed. The shortage of seed in previous seasons resulted in farmers falling into the wrong hands of dealers who sold them maize left over from past seasons coloured to appear as if was treated seed when in actual fact it was fake seed.
Such seed would struggle to germinate and when it finally does so, growth is stunted and the yield is hugely affected leading to low production. While we are encouraged by the abundant availability of maize seed, we are not really sure about it's affordability. Indeed availability is one thing and the ability and capacity to buy is another.
We hope the seed houses have priced the seed in a manner that activates farmers into buying without any grumbling.
It is no secret at all that most farmers have been failing to put their land to its full productive use largely because of the prohibitive cost of inputs, such as seed, fertiliser, chemicals and tillage.
Most farmers have the land and to some extent, the expertise, but do not have the money to turn the vast tracts of land into green belts. This is where we call for good pricing of inputs to encourage farmers to buy hybrid seed that yields more instead of turning to the illegal black market for fake seed.
The cost of production has remained the farmers' biggest headache as it has remained higher than the revenue. This has led to most farmers failing to make a profit and let alone break even, thus rendering farming as a business less lucrative.
Owing to the high input prices, most farmers end up buying less of everything just to cover their target hectrages and by so doing the yield is affected and so are the returns from the investment.
We believe that farmers can fully take advantage of the predicted normal to above normal rainfall if the maize seed is made available at very affordable price.
Seed houses can still make their money if they price their seed at affordable levels as more and more farmers, including those who had abandoned maize production, can turn back to growing maize and obviously as more people grow maize, the seed volumes can easily be pushed up and in this US dollar economy companies make money by pushing volumes.
It has been said over and over again that maize is our staple food so all efforts must be made towards its production. Zimbabwe has for many years in the past been renowned as the breadbasket for Southern Africa, producing in one season, a record 2,2 million tonnes of maize, achieving national food self sufficiency and exporting the surplus.
With the correct pricing of inputs, we believe we can easily return to our status as the breadbasket of Southern African, known for exporting food and not for importing as has become the case in recent years.
We hope the seed is now available on the market as experience has taught us that seed houses talk of seed in their warehouse when it is not available on the market.
We are optimistic that indeed the seed is being sold on the market and that for as long as farmers have money in their pockets, they can buy the seed wherever they are.
If there are any schemes to support farmers that the Government and the private sector are mulling, we believe they must be implemented now as farmers need to get down with the serious business of farming.
Procrastination has been the biggest challenge facing the Government and the private sector when it comes to putting together input packages to support farmers.
We have seen the packages/schemes being introduced and implemented well into the farming season instead of ahead the start of the farming season to allow farmers to plan their cropping. Banks also need to play ball by lending money to farmers who meet their lending requirements.
Why financial institutions will not consider the viability of the farming venture as collateral also beats us.
We would think the viability of the venture would be enough collateral as the banks, barring adverse weather conditions, like drought, would be sure of recovering their money and at the same time getting seriously involved in agriculture and matters of national food security.
The rainy season is upon us and let's all work towards retaining our bread basket status.