The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Many Farmers Struggle to Buy Seed, Fertiliser

Many farmers are still struggling to buy seed and fertiliser due to limited cash. The Meteorological Services Department confirmed that the rainy season has started, with some farmers already planting. But farmers complain about the absence of an adequate input support scheme, as some were pinning their hopes on the 2013 national budget announced by Finance Minister Tendai Biti last Thursday.

Others, mostly communal and A1 farmers, said they had lost hope as the budget came too late to salvage the situation and fell short of addressing their requirements.

Seed, fertilisers and chemicals are readily available on the market, with seed houses distributing them to rural outlets. But sales are disappointing because few farmers have enough money or credit to buy the inputs.

National Tested Seed administrator Mr Wellington Mutsau said only established farmers were buying seed and fertilisers. Very few of the small scale farmers were buying the inputs, he said.

"We used to have a single customer buying over 1 tonne of fertiliser, but this is not the case this season. We have resorted to re-packing the seed into smaller quantities whose prices most farmers can afford," he said.

Agritex director Mr Joseph Gondo confirmed that farmers had started planting in some areas. But most farmers in the communal areas are using retained seed which would have a negative impact on their yields.

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