With arrival of rainy season, perennial scramble in Zimbabwe for seed, fertilizer

Thursday, October 22, 2009

As Zimbabwe's rainy season approaches, farmers in the Wedza district, Mashonaland East province, are worried that again this year they won't be able to locate or afford the seed, fertilizer, and other inputs needed to get a maize crop in the ground.

Flag of Zimbabwe
Image: Madden.

Aiming to relieve such shortages of inputs, Christian Care is among the non-governmental organizations working with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the European Union to implement an agricultural inputs support scheme.

Christian Care said it is now providing farmers in the Midlands with fertilizer and seeds.

Experts said most farmers are struggling to obtain inputs because the government has cut back on programs to finance planting, instead urging farmers to borrow from banks. But banks insist on land as collateral, though all farmland has been nationalized.

Even farmers resettled under land reform since 2000 have only so-called offer letters granting them working rights, but banks will accept neither these nor livestock as collateral.

Christian Care Director Forbes Matonga reported that his is one of seven organizations reaching out to small farmers under the FAO program.

As the rainy season begins, cholera is also now a growing concern. Residents of Zimbabwe, fearing a repeat of the 2008 epidemic that killed thousands, are struggling to complete precautionary measures.

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