|Government funds 2012/13 potato farming|
|Friday, 13 July 2012 07:26|
THE Government has started distributing Compound C fertiliser to strategic seed potato producing areas in a move set to boost the crop's production in the 2012/13 farming season.
In the past, potato farming has been hampered by the non-availability of seed and chemical fertilisers and the move by the Government is set to boost productivity, enhance food security, and improve standards of living and national health status.
The Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Dr Joseph Made, on Wednesday said the gesture which is expected to result in higher production levels, comes amid concerns that potato production has not been getting adequate attention as other crops.
Cheaper potato varieties are only found in Nyanga and the GMB Nyanga has received its allocation of inputs.
"GMB Nyanga has already received its allocation of Compound C fertiliser and potato farmers in the area should start accessing their allocations. This is meant to capacitate seed potato farmers in Nyanga. All categories of potato producers are expected to benefit under this scheme," said Dr Made.
Dr Made also called for fairness in the distribution of the Compound C fertiliser. He said A1 and communal farmers will each receive one bag, while A2 farmers will have allocations based on the hectarage.
He warned the GMB Nyanga authorities to put up allocation systems and prevent a situation where the consignment ends up in the hands of a powerful few.
"I want fairness. I do not want anyone to interfere with operations of GMB. The depot manager should do things fairly and carefully.
“We need every farmer to get at least something. We need to assist these farmers as much as we can and we do not want them to be short-changed in favour of a few individuals. The farmers must start collecting their fertiliser. There is no point in the GMB holding on the fertiliser as if the farmers cannot keep it for themselves," said Dr Made.
He urged the seed potato producers to put the inputs to good use and work towards ensuring that potatoes are available to the customer at an affordable price that will also keep themselves in the farming business.
Though power outages are a major drawback, Nyanga farmers often use water channeled from Kairezi River, bordering Mozambique to irrigate their crop.
The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union, has hailed the Government support to potato seed input as it will promote the consumption of locally produced potatoes in the country.
ZCFU President, Mr Donald Khumalo, said the initiative taken by Government would reduce production costs for potato farmers who will not have money to buy fertiliser on the black market.
He also hailed the Government's previous assistance to the sector with seed, saying farmers will no longer incur large costs importing the seed from other countries.
Mr Khumalo said the move would also see a reduction in the importation of genetically modified products which continue to flood the market at a cheaper price, thus putting local farmers at a disadvantage as their products are a bit expensive to produce.
He added that the development will also assist in managing food deficit levels at a time the country is facing a looming drought following erratic and poor rainfall patterns this agricultural season.
Potatoes are in high demand in urban areas mainly because they have fast emerged as a substitute for staple crops such as maize, rice and wheat which largely depend on rain-fed agriculture.
About five years ago, in a bid promote potato farming, the Government declared the crop a strategic and potential food security crop.