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Zimbabwe Communal Farmers Failing to Access Fertilizer

Communal farmers in the Buhera District of Manicaland province are back in their fields, but say the lack of fertilizer this farming season may mean a lackluster harvest.

Communal farmers in the Makumbe village of Buhera District say they are happy that the district is getting more rain this season than they got last year, but are worried about shortages of top dressing fertilizer for crops, such as maize.

Communal farmer Colletha Makumbe said her maize crop is yellowing as a result of leaching due to inadequate fertilizer and the heavy rains pounding the district since the new year.

Another grower, Simon Makuvise, said even when available in nearby shops, the top dressing fertilizer is too expensive for the average farmer.

The area's traditional leader, Chief Makumbe, wants to ask Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who helped many communal farmers with seed, to show his generosity again, this time by providing cheap ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

The prime minister, who hails from the district, provided maize seed to inhabitants of buhera and other parts of the country, while president robert mugabe did the same under the presidential inputs scheme.
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Finance Minister Tendai Biti told an indaba organized by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries recently that government must prioritize agriculture if the country's economy is to improve.

Farmers here fear that unless something is done quickly to rescue the maize crop planted on thousands of hectares of land, Buhera District will face hunger, again.

Farmers in other parts of the country say they are also not accessing top dressing fertilizer, ammonium nitrate, as rains continue pounding their areas resulting in widespread leaching.

Gwanda farmer Zwelithini Gabula told VOA Studio 7 that ammonium nitrate is available in some retail shops but is very expensive, with a 50 kilogram bag costing between $15 and $20.
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Development worker, Everson Ndlovu, said farmers should use traditional manure if they cannot access top dressing fertiliser.
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