26 October 2012

Zimbabwe: Agric Production to Drop Sharply

ZIMBABWE's agricultural production faces a costly slump next year as the 2012-2013 farming season lies in disarray due to failure by government to disburse funds for the timeous purchase of inputs, Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) president Charles Taffs told businessdigest this week.

In an interview, Taffs said the cash-strapped government failed to adequately fund agriculture in the past year while its debts to seed and fertiliser companies continue to soar.

"Seed houses are owed significant amounts, principally by government and this has a knock-on effect on their ability to support growers for the coming season," Taffs said.

He warned of an impending shortage of ammonium nitrate (AN) and other nitrogenous fertilisers, but added that the challenge was being mitigated by the importation of urea and other substitutes.

"However, this will push prices up and therefore affect viability of farmers," Taffs warned.

The shortage of AN locally is a direct result of the removal of electricity subsidies to Sable Chemicals who are the manufacturers of the fertiliser, resulting in significant scale-back of operations.

Taffs said a serious maize shortage is looming in 2013 owing to the droughts in countries like Brazil and reduced production of grain in the United States, which he said will push global maize prices up as demand for grain rises.

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