Wheat plantings have started slowly as farmers want banks to speed up the processing of their loans so they can fund their operations.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) President Mr Paul Zachariya confirmed that little activity was taking place on farms so far, insisting it was exacerbated by banks delaying payments loans to enable farmers to plant the crop on time.
He said banks’ late response in processing loans would jeopardize targeted returns, adding that production would skyrocket if funding was made on time.
The wheat planting window is short and further delays would reduce production, Mr Zachariya said, preventing Zimbabwe from achieving self-sufficiency.
“It takes a long time for banks to provide loans to farmers to start farming,” he said.
“Some farmers who applied in February have not yet received the funds and some banks have not even made farm visits.
“We are concerned because the planting window for wheat is very short, which means that if a farmer missed the planting window by one week, it means you lose the yield.”
Mr Zachariya said delays by banks would lead to farmers defaulting on their loans after failing to get the expected return.
Sowing wheat after May would not give crops enough time to be ready for harvest before the summer rains start to fall and spoil the grain.
“The planting season starts from April to mid-May, any planting beyond this period will automatically reduce the targeted yields,” he said.
“That means crops that will encroach on the rainy season won’t.”
Mr. Zachariya said there were isolated activities across the country regarding the sowing of winter wheat due to the delay in harvesting summer crops.
He said they don’t have statistics on planted acreage as of now.