20 September 2013

Zimbabwe: Make Agric Inputs Available On Time, Govt Urged

FARMERS have urged Government and the private sector to ensure farming inputs are made available on time. Zimbabwe Farmers Union president Mr Silas Hungwe said Government should ensure timely distribution of inputs, access to finance and viable producer prices.He made the remarks while addressing farmers during the union's 73rd Annual Congress held in Gweru on Wednesday.

The two-day congress was held under the theme "Coping with drought and climate change for sustainable agricultural practices". "Smallholder farmers, in particular, are able to feed the nation if they are given the necessary support from Government and private sector," said Mr Hungwe.

He also urged farmers to secure farming inputs early ahead of the farming season to avoid inconveniences.

"As we enter into the new agricultural season, all farmers and service providers should be adequately prepared," he said.

"Inputs should be secured well ahead of time and we should observe proper planting dates even as we rely on expert advice from our extension workers."

Mr Hungwe urged the Government to open a financial window for smallholder farmers through banks and other relevant financial institutions.

He said long back financial institutions such as Agricultural Development Fund (Adaf) used to assist farmers with agricultural loans.

"Through this facility farmers had actively participated in contributing to the national food security. Such type of facilities should be revived for the benefit of farmers," said Mr Hungwe.

"Going forward, we strongly advocate for Government to open a financial window for smallholder farmers through Agribank and other relevant financial institutions."

Mr Hungwe also called for viable producer prices for agricultural products, which he said have remained uncompetitive over the last five years.

"This situation must be addressed urgently. We would like to thank the government for reviving the Agricultural Marketing Authority. This platform has allowed farmers to dialogue with commodity buyers for prices as in the case of cotton," he said.

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