Some Zimbabwean farmers are expressing concern about the agricultural season now getting under way because the Grain Marketing Board, traditionally a source of seed and fertilizer, has indicated it won't provide free farming inputs to small growers.
Communal farmers said the financially-troubled GMB is still paying farmers for grain they delivered last season instead of giving them subsidized or free farming inputs.
The government recently released US$6.4 million to the GMB to pay farmers and mooted a scheme for unpaid farmers to accept payment in kind in maize seed and fertilizer.
Farmer Wonder Musinga in Shurugwi, Midlands province, said growers in his area won’t till their land this year unless the GMB provides agricultural inputs. Musinga noted that a 10-kilogram bag of maize seed now costs US$19.
Musinga said the GMB should seek government funding for planting inputs.
“The only problem is that the GMB has been highly politicized with most beneficiaries being ZANU-PF supporters,” he said.
A farmer in Karoi, Mashonaland West province, asking to be identified only as Tavengwa, said farmers are struggling to raise funds for inputs.
Commercial Farmers Union President Deon Theron said this season is also uncertain for white commercial farmers as ZANU-PF militants continue to invade farms in a continuation of the disorderly land reform launched in 2000.
Only a few hundred white commercial farmers remain of more than 4,200 before 2000.