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Farmers here have started receiving additional inputs for the 2017-18 summer cropping season to ease input shortages which resulted in reduced hectarage for maize, while in some areas they failed to beat the planting deadline.

Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs Owen Ncube said the province had started receiving more inputs that are already being distributed at GMB depots across the province.

A snap survey by The Herald established that farmers in Gokwe North received inputs, particularly fertiliser, last week. Farmers received seed on time last year, but fertiliser shortage was the major setback. Minister Ncube said there was a lot of progress in terms of fertiliser distribution.

“We are happy because we are now receiving additional inputs that are being distributed throughout the province. We believe that our farmers were not seriously affected because most practice dry planting and late onset of the rains has proved to be a blessing in disguise,” he said.

“The inputs will go a long way in ensuring that farmers get optimal yield if we receive normal rains.” Zimbabwe Fertiliser Manufacturers Association chairperson Mr Tapiwa Mashingaidze said fertiliser companies recently imported fertiliser after receiving a substantial amount of foreign currency from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

“We have imported a significant amount of fertiliser for this summer cropping season after we received a substantial amount of foreign currency from RBZ,” he said.

“Fertiliser should have been distributed to farmers earlier because for those using irrigation, we are already in the mid-season where most crops are starting to mature. The advantage is only for those on dry land because the rains delayed and only started coming towards the end of last month. For those on dry land, there is time and they can still catch up.

“Our national consumption of fertiliser every season is around 400 000 tonnes, but we have so far released more than 300 000 tonnes to the market. We are still to compile information to ascertain the actual amount of imported fertiliser.” In Midlands, Government distributed two percent of the required ammonium nitrate and 15 percent of basal fertiliser to Command Agriculture farmers for the 2017-18 summer cropping season before the importation of fertiliser.

The province contracted 8 529 farmers under Command Agriculture requiring 11 000 tonnes of both basal and top dressing fertilisers this season. Government last month announced that it had distributed 75 percent of farming inputs under the Presidential Input Support Scheme and about 50 percent under Command Agriculture this summer cropping season.