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May 17, 2010

Zimbabwe subsidizes fertilizer for wheat farmers

Farmers can start buying subsidised fertilizer for winter wheat from Grain Marketing Board depots across Zimbabwe at US$7 for a 50kg bag.
The subsidy is part of the Government’s US$10 million facility for winter wheat.

The inputs are normally sold for between US$28 and US$34, and the subsidised price compares competitively with regional subsidies.

In a statement yesterday, GMB said 20 000 tonnes of top dressing fertilizer were already available while basal fertilizer, chemicals and seed would soon follow.

"However, farmers can still access non-subsided winter wheat inputs from local suppliers to meet the wheat planting deadline," read part of the statement.

Top dressing is applied three weeks after the crop has germinated. The top dressing fertilizers available are urea and limestone ammonium nitrate (LAN).

To purchase the fertilizer, farmers should provide proof of identity, grain delivery receipts showing they have been selling to the GMB, and Zesa (electricity) and Zinwa (water) bills.

Government set aside US$10 million for the 2010 winter wheat production, which is half of what Finance Minister Tendai Biti had earlier promised. The money is to facilitate access to subsidized inputs. Under the facility, farmers in communal irrigation schemes will get 40kg seed and 150kg and 100kg respectively of compound D and top dressing fertilizer.

A1 small-scale commercial farmers will get inputs for a maximum of two hectares of wheat. They will buy subsidised 24kg bags of seed, a tonne of compound D fertilizer and 800kg of top dressing fertilizer.

Those under the A2 scheme will get subsidised inputs for 40 hectares.

Preference will be given to farmers who have been delivering their grain to the GMB.

Wheat farmers have been facing financial constraints and power interruptions.

The farmers have also found it difficult to access money from banks as financial institutions are giving short-term loans, which they say they cannot afford.

Zimbabwe requires 450 000 tonnes of wheat annually and at its peak produced slightly less than half of this with the rest being imported.

The US$10 million facility is sufficient for about 10 000 tonnes.

Meanwhile, the GMB has stopped paying farmers who delivered grain to its depots from its head office with immediate effect. Farmers will now be paid at the depots where they delivered their grain.

The parastatal also encouraged farmers to open bank accounts and leave the banking details with the GMB depot manager on delivery so that electronic payments could be expedited.

The Herald

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