HARARE – As preparations for the 2012/2013 farming season intensify, farmers should desist from using farming methods that may cause loss of forests through veld fires, Silas Hungwe, the president of the Zimbabwe Farmers Union has said.
Hungwe’s call comes amid aggressive efforts by the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) to raise awareness in communities on veld fires following massive loss of forests and property during this year’s fire season.
“We discourage the wanton destruction of forests and grazing pastures through veld fire,” said Hungwe.
According to information from Ema, more than a million hectares of land had been destroyed by veld fires from January to the end of last month.
During the same period last year, only 700 000 hectares of land had been destroyed.
The fire season runs from July to October.
Many communal farmers use fire to clear their land for a new planting season because they cannot afford paying for mechanical tilling.
Financial problems over the past two decades have crippled the operations of both subsistent and commercial farmers.
Hungwe implored on the government to subsidise inputs to boost production and ensure food security.
“As is the norm in other countries, we also call upon our government to consider subsidising the production of fertiliser so that the commodity is readily available and affordable on the local market,” said Hungwe, adding that production costs were still too high.
Over the last decade the agricultural sector has been faced with a plethora of challenges, including the change of weather patterns.
Farmers have also continually lost resources through droughts, resulting in many of them lobbying for the construction of dams and scaling up of irrigation.
Many of them are preparing for the new season following the recent rains.
“Farmers in low rainfall regions should intensify land preparations. Those in wet lands are urged to start planting while those in drought-prone areas should focus on producing small grains,” said Hungwe.
According to experts, Zimbabwe will receive normal rainfall this farming season. – Wendy Muperi