Seed producers have blamed the government of Zimbabwe for failing the command agriculture program by not paying them on time to ensure continuity of production.
Speaking on the sidelines of a familiarization tour by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture and Irrigation Development, Du Point Pioneer Zimbabwe General Manager, Themba Nkathazo said although the program is commendable as it provides farmers with cheaper farming inputs, government needs to start paying seed manufacturers so that there is continuity in the seed manufacturing sector.
“The Command Agriculture scheme is commendable but government must also prioritize companies that manufacture maize seed.
“We cannot be ordered to supply seed and then wait long to be paid. We want government to pay us so that we are able to produce more for the next season. We need the money for research purposes and to import some seed that we do not manufacture in the country,” said Nkathazo.
He said Pioneer has so far supplied more 3, 5 tons of the 4000 tons of maize ordered by government but the biggest challenge is that they have not met their obligation of paying up what they owe manufacturers.
“The delay in payment has huge negative impact in our production because we rely on the money to carry out our duties, so I implore government to pay up what it owes and I can assure you that Zimbabwean farmers will benefit from this noble scheme,” he said.
He also cited lack of adequate agricultural preparedness as a key factor hampering productivity in the agriculture sector and made a strong call for farmers to equip themselves before the farming season begins.
Apart from inputs, Nkathazo said farmer education is important if the country is to realize its full potential.
“Zimbabwean farmers face the same challenge annually, which is inadequate preparation and we have seen how that has affected harvest come the end of season. Most of the farmers we have, lack knowledge and the necessary skills hence they end up losing a lot of crops,” he said.
Nkathazo implored ZESA and ZINWA to make electricity and water more affordable to farmers as the two are a necessity in crop production.
“At one farm in the country where we were growing our maize, we were asked to pay more $9 000 per month for electricity and that amount of money is absurd in this economy,” he said.
Nkathazo said financial challenges were affecting the agricultural sector citing lack of trust between financial institutions and farmers as a major contributor to poor harvest over the years.