Zimbabwe: High Input Costs Worry Sugarcane Farmers

Chiredzi — High input costs are threatening the viability of the 2020 sugarcane farming season.

Cane farmers say the prices of fertilizers and herbicides are now beyond their reach and this may affect sugarcane production.

Commercial Sugarcane Farmers Association of Zimbabwe Chairperson, Admore Hwarari said they were concerned about the rising cost of fertilizers and herbicides.

"As farmers we have not been spared by the current economic crisis particularly on the prices of our inputs; fertilizers, herbicides as well as spare parts," he said.

A Hippo valley sugarcane farmer, Muchineripi Mazhata added that inputs played a critical role in the seasonal cropping plans and any upward adjustment of prices had an effect of increasing production costs.

A survey by CAJ News Africa showed the price of fertilizers had increased by 60 percent.

Before the recent wave of price hikes, the average prize of a 50kg bag of Ammonium Nitrate was 320 Bond (Z$320) but it has shot up to 660 Bond (Z$660) at hardware shop, Farmware.

At Farm and City and Electro Sales in Chiredzi, the price of Ammonium Nitrate was on Monday pegged in Bond at 854 (Z$854) while compound D was prized at Z$665 with Compound C going for Z$800.

Sugarcane is a perennial crop grown in Lowveld's Mkwasine, Hippo valley and Triangle which typically takes 12 months to reach maturity.

It is also a luxuriant consumer of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium as well as various herbicides for high yields.

"Proper soils and nutrient management is key to achieving high yields from sugarcane farmers. Farmers must buy phosphorus which provides the sugarcane with energy it needs to grow both above and below ground," said Hwarari.

"An adequate supply of phosphorus at the beginning of the season helps crops to grow a large health root system which it uses to absorb water and nutrients while potassium provides the mechanism with which to move the sugar produced from the leaves to the internodes for storage," he said.

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