The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Calls to Have Inputs Nearer Farmers

Government and stakeholders should strengthen agro-dealers and retailers in farming areas for farmers to access inputs closer to their farms.

Farmer organisations believe the initiative would reduce costs and time spent by farmers travelling to and from cities to purchase inputs. Agricultural experts specialising in the input supply chain said the agro-dealers or rural retailers form the most important link for small holder farmers to access needed inputs.

Strengthening and assisting them, they said, would help small holder farmers easily access inputs.

This would include making them access consignment stock and even credit facilities such as seed suppliers as well as fertiliser and livestock products suppliers.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said farmer organisations had always lobbied Government and input suppliers for the decentralising of farming facilities.

Farmers spend a lot of time and money travelling to purchase inputs when they could put that time to good use if inputs were brought to shops closer.

"In most cases farmers spend lots of money travelling to cities to buy inputs where they experience problems when moving the inputs.

"The situation could improve if all rural retailers are well stocked and farmers can always buy when they have the money," Mr Chabikwa said.

He said this was the situation years back when farmers would access inputs through the Farmer's Co-ops.

Mr Chabikwa however, said although this move was positive, authorities would have to monitor the retailers.

This would also ensure that they do not reap off farmers by charging exorbitant prices.

"Farmers may arrange with the shop owners and secure credits but Government should also ensure retailers put reasonable mark ups," he said.

Mr Chabikwa said seed houses had been forthcoming in supplying farmers with the commodity nearer to the farms. He urged fertiliser and chemical suppliers to emulate the seed houses. GMB chairman Mr Charles Chikaura said the parastatal had gone into arrangements for consignments stock with seed houses.

GMB signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Pannar and Seed Co Zimbabwe which will see the companies acting as agents for the seed houses in distribution and selling of seed this season.

So far the seed houses have committed 4 000 tonnes each to the consignment. The seed is sold at commercial prices.

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