by Tichaona Chifamba
HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean
farmers are facing a gloomy season with unfavorable weather
conditions forecast for the planting season, compounded by a
massive hike in seed prices.
Zimbabwe is one of 25
high-risk countries to be adversely affected by El Nino and is
expected to receive normal to below-normal rainfall from October
to March, while maize seed producers have more than trebled
A bag of maize seed, which was selling for 25 U.S. dollars
last season, is now going for 100 dollars while a 25 kg bag is
being sold for about 250 dollars, up from 70 dollars, according
to a price list published last week by one of the major seed
The producers did not give reasons for the massive hike, but
prices of basic commodities have been going up of late, with
producers citing a shortage of foreign currency and high rates
of exchange on the black market.
The situation has left many farmers, especially small-scale
ones, wondering whether they should grow maize in the coming
season or simply wait to buy grain next year as there are fears
that the prices of other inputs such as fertilizers, herbicides
and pesticides will also go up.
Some are considering using some of the grain they harvested
last season as seed but are not sure of the yields.
"I will definitely not buy seed this year.
"I have no choice when it comes to fertilizers but I will use
cow dung instead of basal fertilizer, even though I know that I
will have to work extra hard weeding the fields because dung
usually carries a lot of weed seed," small farmer Emmanuel
Tigere told Xinhua.
Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu condemned the
increases, saying that there was no justification for producers
to raise prices.
"The price increases are absolutely not justified.
"We are worried... as it comes at a time that our farmers are
preparing to go back to till their land," he told the state-run
Ndlovu said the government would engage the seed producers
over the matter.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union executive director Paul Zakaria said
farmers would in turn push for a rise in the producer price if
the seed prices are left where they were.
"If these prices are not controlled, farmers will downsize
their production because of unaffordable costs of inputs.
"This will obviously affect production.
"There is, therefore, need for a social contract between
government, business and consumers," he told a press conference.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Wonder Chabikwa
also said that farmers are not happy with the new prices.
"It is a huge shock for the farmers," he said.
Zimbabwe seed producers
cut prices after public outcry
HARARE Zimbabwe(Xinhua) --
Zimbabwe seed producers have cut the
prices of their products following an outcry from farmers and
representations by the government.
The producers more than doubled their prices last week,
citing unfavorable operating conditions.
A snap survey by Xinhua on Wednesday showed that prices have
been down drastically, although they remained high for many
One leading seed producer cut the price of medium-season
variety of maize seed from 250.82 Zimbabwean bond dollars per 25
kg bag to 138 dollars, while prices for a 10 kg bag of the same
variety went down from 100 dollars to 55 dollars.
Despite the reduction, farmers on Wednesday said the prices
are still too high and production would be adversely affected.
A bag of maize seed, now costing 55 dollars, was selling for
25 U.S. dollars last season.
Zimbabwean monetary authorities peg the bond dollars at 1:1
to the U.S. dollar, but the greenback is sold at more than twice
the bond dollar on the black market.
President of the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union Abdul Nyathi told
Xinhua on Wednesday that the price cuts are not enough and
small-holder farmers still cannot afford to plant in the coming
"Take for instance the 10 kg bag of maize, which was selling
at around 25 dollars last season.
"The same now costs 55 dollars, and this is double last
season's price," he said.
"A lot of people are saying this is not sustainable and they
will not go back on the land to farm."
He also said the producers had only reduced prices of short-
and medium-season variety seeds and left the high yielding
longer-term varieties untouched.
"Farmers prefer the long-term varieties because they have
higher yields, but the producers left the prices very high.
"Wait and see if anyone will buy those seeds," he said.
Prices of fertilizers also went down, with a 50 kg bag of top
dressing going down from 80 bond dollars to 60 dollars, while
basal fertilizer went down from 75 dollars to 55 dollars.
Both fertilizers cost less than 40 dollars last season.
Zimbabwean ruling party
warns opposition against 'treasonous' utterances
HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) --
Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party has warned that claims by MDC
Alliance vice president Morgen Komichi that the opposition party
had installed its president Nelson Chamisa as the state
president was treasonous and that the party was thus "playing
The opposition party on Saturday held its 19th anniversary
commemorations in Harare where Chamisa was said to have been
installed as state president.
ZANU-PF secretary for information and publicity Simon Khaya
Moyo said the installation was a "kindergarten spectacle" and
that the MDC Alliance leadership should bear the consequences of
"such misguided conduct and avoid playing with fire," state
newspaper The Herald reported on Monday.
"The political circus at the MDC Alliance celebration at
Gwanzura Stadium where those who attended were hoodwinked into
believing that Nelson Chamisa is the president of Zimbabwe
following the July 30 harmonized elections resembled a
"In fact, the announcement by Morgen Komichi at the rally
that his boss had been duly bestowed as the president of
Zimbabwe borders on treason and is condemnable," Moyo said.
He said the fact that Chamisa was invited to the podium to
light up what he termed the democracy flame, which resembled the
country’s independence flame, was an insult to the protracted
liberation struggle that led to majority rule in 1980 and an
affront to Zimbabweans as a whole.
Chamisa narrowly lost the presidential election to ZANU-PF
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and an appeal to the
Constitutional Court to nullify the result did not provide him
with the relief he sought.
He has since threatened mass protests to push Mnangagwa out
of the presidency.
lifting ban on basic commodity
imports as shortages persist countrywide
President Emmerson Mnangagwa remains
optimistic as economic crisis deepens in Zimbabwe