The government has set aside $77 billion in the 2023 national budget to finance distribution of free farming inputs to communal farmers, a Cabinet Minister said on Thursday.
Last year, the government provided inputs to 2.7 million farmers in communal, small-scale commercial, old resettlement and peri-urban farming areas for cereals, oil seeds and legumes.
Presenting the 2023 national budget, Finance and Economic Development Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube said government financial support to small scale farmers was vital for the development of the agricultural sector.
“For the 2022/23 farming season, Government is providing agriculture inputs to vulnerable households under the Agriculture Productive Scheme (Pfumvudza/Intwasa) targeting 845 000 ha under cereal and oil seeds at a cost of ZWL$77 billion,” he said.
“The Programme targets 900 000 households, of which about 300 000 are vulnerable households from urban areas. The programme also targets to support 5 200 cotton growers with cotton inputs,” he said.
Mthuli said as at 15 November 2022, inputs comprising 9 398 metric tonnes of grain seed and 50 831 mt of fertilizers all valued at US$74 million and equivalent to ZWL$51.8 billion, had already been distributed across the country.
In a State of the Nation address on Wednesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said distribution of inputs will be tailored to the ecological farming requirements of the different regions to ensure optimum production and guarantee national food security.
In the past, the inputs were distributed without regard to the suitability of crops to particular areas, with maize seed in particular being given to farmers across all regions.
But this cropping season, farmers in regions 1 and 2 would be given more maize seed (10kg per plot) and less traditional grains seeds, which do not do well in these areas.
In regions 3, 4 and 5 this would be reduced to 5 kg or 2 kg per plot, and to compensate for that, farmers would receive more traditional grains such as sorghum, African peas and pearl millet.
The inputs programme is targeting to support five plots (measuring 39 meters by 16 metres) per household with packages including maize, sorghum, pearl millet, soyabeans, sunflower, ground nuts, vegetables and African peas.