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November 16, 2009

Zimbabwe launches inputs subsidy

The Zimbabwe government has established a farming inputs subsidy scheme that will see a 50kg bag of fertilizer selling for US$7 while maize and sorghum seed will both be available at less than US$1 per kg.

The subsidy will benefit communal, A1, old resettlement and small-scale farmers who did not get any inputs under the Government and Food and Agriculture Organisation-run support scheme.
However, limits will be placed on the quantities an individual can buy.

Grain Marketing Board communications manager Mrs Muriel Zemura said the subsidised inputs were already available at their countrywide depot network.

"Farmers under Category A are communal and they will buy a maximum of 50kg of Compound D and ammonium nitrate fertilizers and 10kg of maize seed or 5kg of sorghum seed," she said.

Category B covers of A1, old resettlement and small-scale farmers who will buy a maximum of 150kg of compound D, 100kg of ammonium nitrate, and 20kg of maize seed or 5kg of sorghum seed at the subsidised prices.

Mrs Zemura said the 50kg bag of fertilizer costs US$7, maize seed had been pegged at 52 US cents a kg, with sorghum seed going for 30 US cents a kg.

It is understood that the subsidy came into being after protracted inter-ministerial negotiations over the past weeks. Sources said the Ministry of Agriculture had "fought a huge battle to get Treasury to release the money for the subsidy." The sources said the matter was finalised following a meeting between Agriculture Minister Joseph Made and Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

The Government-FAO Smallholder Emergency Support Programme brings together 16 donors and 35 non-governmental organisations.

Of the 1 301 988 national communal households, 691 686 households are to receive inputs in the form of seeds, fertilizers and extension assistance from the 35 organisations who received funding from donors.

Distribution of the inputs under the FAO programme is underway in most parts of the country.
Committees at national, provincial, district and ward/village level will oversee the distribution of inputs. Targeted households include those headed by children, women, the elderly, the disabled or the chronically-ill in communal and old resettlement areas.

US$70 million was raised towards this end out of a targeted US$142,52 million. Coverage of the programme in provinces ranges from 41 percent to 65 percent while the national average is 53 percent.

The 2009/10 summer cropping season has also seen the Government mobilising US$210 million for inputs.

Meanwhile, a local seed producer has said it has dispatched seed to GMB depots under Government’s US$210 million scheme.

Pioneer Seeds national sales manager Mr Manasa David Makasi said his company had sent 2 121 tonnes of maize seed to GMB depots in Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Manicaland, Midlands and Masvingo provinces.

"We want to ensure that farmers get the correct varieties for their agro-ecological regions," he said.

The Herald

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