AGRICULTURE minister Joseph Made’s maize production projection has cast yet another dark cloud over government’s commitment to avert the recurring food crisis.
Analysts said Made’s evidence to a parliamentary co
mmittee that the crop forecast stands at 1,8 million tonnes was misleading and would create a false sense of security beneficial to political mileage but detrimental to resolving the current food crisis.
“Misrepresentation of facts by some government ministries with the effect of misdirecting public opinion and sentiment, which in turn, creates a false sense of security, particularly in the food and energy sectors of the economy, has proven dangerous over the past six years,” one analyst said
Made on Monday told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Agriculture that crop forecasts indicated that the grain harvest would significantly improve compared to the past three years.
Opposition MDC secretary for agriculture Renson Gasela described Made’s projection as a “pipe-dream”.
“We know that there was only 30 000 tonnes of maize seed available for the 2005/6 season,” he said. If all this seed had been planted, it would have covered 1 200 000 hectares.
“This would produce at best about 800 000 tonnes of maize. We know that the seed was too expensive for many farmers, so not all was bought.”
He said there was very little ammonium nitrate fertiliser available, resulting in a very poor crop in most areas.
“There is no way we would have produced such maize this year. The best we are looking at is no more than 700 000 tonnes,” he said.
Justice for Agriculture (JAG) projected that this year’s harvest would not exceed 750 000 tonnes.
“Made is day dreaming,” JAG chairman John Worsley-Worswick said.
“The best we can achieve this year would be 750 000 tonnes. The planting was done late, then followed by too much rain, leaching the little fertilisers applied by very few farmers.”
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service estimated this year’s harvest at 900 000 tonnes of the staple maize crop, up from 550 000 tonnes last year.
The Zimbabwe Grain Producers’ Association, the commodities body of the Commercial Farmers’ Union, said this year’s harvest will be higher than that of 2005 but less than half the government’s projections. — Staff Writer.