Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) Secretary General Mr. Paul Zakariya said that, while farmers were pleased with a notable reduction in fertilizer prices, the same could be done to hybrid maize seed whose prices have continued on an upward trend.
Zakariya was speaking during the annual national agribusiness conference held recently in Harare under the 113th edition of the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show (ZAS).
At an average price of US$90 per 25-kilogram bag, we are not too sure as to what has driven this up as six years ago the same package cost US$18,” Mr. Zakariya said.
The outcry comes at a time when the Government has set a target of 2 million hectares of maize in the 2023/24 summer cropping season to ensure food and nutrition security for the country.
Under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa program, the Government is targeting to provide inputs to over 3 million households on 400,000 hectares.
A comparative analysis of the prices of some inputs used in maize production from some agro-input stockists shows that the prices of most input components have dropped significantly since last year, thereby giving farmers hope for a rise in returns this season.
However, farmers have expressed dissatisfaction with the maize seed trade, where a worrying trend established in the recent survey showed that most agro-input stockists were only selling their inputs in foreign currency and were not accepting payments in local currency.
Farmers, therefore are pleading with the government to intervene to allow them to access inputs using the local currency.
According to the survey, between the period October 2022 and September 2023, input prices dropped 25 percent, with the major changes noted in fertilizers especially Ammonium Nitrate (AN) at 47 percent.
This was good news to farmers, as fertilizers are the largest input cost component in maize production accounting for over 50 percent of variable costs per hectare.
Glyphosate had the second largest drop in the price of 35 percent, however, the requirement by stockists for its payment in foreign currency only dampens farmers’ spirits.
The same applied to maize seed whose price declined 26 percent but was not being sold in local currency with agro-traders only demanding foreign currency.