In this segment of then and now, we take a look at the agricultural sector. We look at how the various crops have performed in previous years and we also look at how they are expected to perform in 2017.
By Gabriella Kapfunde
Tobacco production has dropped from 216 million kg’s in 2014 to 199 million in 2016. This decrease has been attributed by factors such as poor rains and the reduction on selling prices. Flue-cured tobacco sold at US$2.98 in 2009 and dropped to US$2.73 in 2011 whilst tobacco has dropped from US$3.17/kg to US$2.93/kg which has prompted some estimated 21000 farmers to ditch the crop. (Zimbabwe Independent April 8 2016)
Soybeans production, according to the Financial Gazette of August 28 2014 was reported to be on the verge of decline from an estimated 76 933 tonnes because of poor offers from buyers (an estimated $800 to produce a tonne versus $480-$520 offered by buyers) as well as imports from Zambia, Brazil and India. A sharp contrast has however seen the Herald of 25 January 2017 reveal that despite being constricted by the shortages of raw materials, the government is looking to prioritize soya bean production due to the 12 million litre monthly demand since the ban of cooking oil importation as of July 2016. Acting President Mnangagwa upon touring two local oil producers spoke on the need to increase farmer awareness on the need to take up the crop since it has readily available markets.
According to Thursday 19 January 2016’s Herald Cotton farmers in the year 2015 had to work with 25% of a hectare to grow their cotton but this year has witnessed 150 000 cotton farmers planting on almost 2 hectares each, catapulting 2015’s 200,000 hectares to an estimated 300 000 for this year .The increased hectarage, combined with the disbursement of 6 000 tonnes of seed, has paved way to COTTCO’s anticipation of receiving 110 000 tonnes from farmers across the country this year. The government’s $42 million injection into the Cotton Inputs Scheme has enabled the trio of seed availability, 50 000 litres of herbicide and rains to make this year promising compared to last year.
Maize production was predicted to possibly plunge from 2015’s 742 000 tonnes to an estimated 445 600 tonnes reflecting a 40% decline according to July 7 2016’s Financial Gazette. A U.K based research group predicted that Zimbabwe until 2020 is likely to be a net importer of it’s staple food (maize) due to climate change. Shortage of fertiliser has also been a threat to the produce in the fields as some farmers are failing to acquire the fertiliser they need. However, the rainy season has provided plenty of rain so far and maize production is expected to flourish.
For the agricultural sector, 2017 looks good. General production is expected to go up and farmers will be hoping for continual growth in seasons to come.