Editorial Comment: New farming season: Let’s all play ball

The rainy season is upon us. By that token, the 2019-2020 summer cropping season is about to start in earnest.

Suffice to say, we all know that we are coming from a bad farming season, where erratic rainfall was largely to blame.

But if we are honest with ourselves, we also have poor planning, poor decision-making and bad agricultural practices.

We should go into this season carrying lessons not only from the last farming season, but from many other past seasons.

Where we have failed, we must work to win, and where we have won and made profit, we must strive to increase the margin. History, they say is a great teacher.

Time, too, is a great teacher.

Every farmer worth his salt should learn from past mistakes, leverage on current and new technological advancements to improve.

Farming by its nature is business and should be taken as such. Farmers in their broad totality should take advantage of the rainfall forecast that has predicted normal to below normal rains for the greater part of the country.

Predictions of the 2019-2020 rainy season by the Meteorological Services Department for most parts of the country is that the rainfall might not be too reliable in the second half that starts in January.

Therefore, farmers should take advantage of the first half that is about to start.

So, the earlier the farmers plant their crops the better. But, the issue is not only planting.

The issue is planting the right crop under the right soil conditions and using the right farming and cropping methods.

Farmers must start understanding their agricultural regions and plant crops recommended by agronomists.

We believe gone are the days when farmers just planted hectare-after-hectare of land without the corresponding inputs, equipment, labour and knowledge.

Emphasis should, therefore, be on maximum yield rather than planting huge swathes which the farmer cannot manage.

It then calls for right sizing. The correct inputs, correct land preparation, correct equipment, correct attitude and indeed correct management. Correct timing!

The Government on its part must capacitate agriculture extension officers and make them play a greater role in assisting farmers. The current scenario where farmers have to fund extension officers’ transport to attend to their needs is untenable.

The Government should provide the extension services as planned.

Farmers must be more organised and prepared for the season to the extent of avoiding short cuts.

It is hoped that the fuel sector will play its part to make the commodity readily available given that farmers must spend the greater part of their time in their fields rather than in fuel queues.

The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) must play ball.

The service stations that sell the product must also play ball. Banks that have promised farmers loans should release them on time.

We also urge contractors to give farmers inputs on time. In fact, everyone with a contribution to make must deliver. We must all deliver for our country to produce enough, and even surplus.

Therefore, for Zimbabwe to maximise on the 2019-2020 cropping season, everyone must play their part.