The uptake of inputs, particularly seed, has increased as preparations for the forthcoming summer cropping season intensify.
Beneficiaries of Government input schemes and the banks' sponsored Command Agriculture have begun receiving inputs while self-financed farmers are busy procuring seed from retailers.
Seed is available at most retail outlets across the country although some farmers are complaining of high costs. Seed industry spokesman, Mr Ivan Craig, yesterday confirmed an increase in activity on seed procurement.
"The uptake of inputs is quite encouraging. With the forecast of the season that we are going to have normal to above normal rains, this has brought excitement to most farmers and input suppliers. Input suppliers, particularly seed companies, took their seed to farming areas.
"Farmers have done a lot of land preparations and most have done soil testing and are buying fertilisers according to the recommendations. Farmers are also applying lime to correct their soil pH. If we proceed at that pace and morale, which means farmers will be able to surpass the Government target of 3,6 million tonnes," said Mr Craig.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president, Mr Shadreck Makombe, said self-sponsored farmers who had the means and those with collateral to borrow from banks were preparing their fields and sourcing inputs.
"Self-financed farmers who can procure inputs on their own without getting loans are few. Unfortunately, inputs are expensive, and these farmers are also not many because the majority are struggling to make-ends-meet due to the fact that there is no market for most of their produce from which they ordinarily get income from.
"We are encouraging farmers to source for funds or sell their livestock to procure inputs as we have a promising season. The farmers can replace the livestock after a good harvest," he said.
Seed Co Zimbabwe said in the next cropping season, farmers can grow field crops such as maize, soya bean, and sugar beans at their recommended planting times, which are mid-October, mid-November and end of December to January, respectively.
"Farmers should select varieties that fit within the expected rainfall growing season in their ecological zones, with farmers in high potential areas of region 1 and 2 being encouraged to establish long and medium season varieties due to the lengthy rainfall season in their regions, which can accommodate the growing period of the late and medium maturing maize varieties ranging between 140 to 160 days to maturity," said Seed Co.
In region 3, farmers are encouraged to establish medium maturing varieties in areas that receive high rainfall and resort to early maturing varieties in areas of reduced rainfall.
In agro-ecological regions 4 and 5, farmers are encouraged to establish varieties in the early, very early and ultra-early-maturity groups as these will fit within their growing regions. Farmers with irrigation facilities could cut across the recommended maturity groups and establish any variety since supplementary irrigation will be available to support the crop to maturity.
Zimbabwe has set a target of 3,6 million tonnes of maize for the forthcoming summer cropping season.
Last year, the production of maize and traditional grains was estimated at 1,1 million tonnes against a national requirement of about 2,3 million for human and livestock consumption.