By Nyasha N Mukapiko
The chaotic land reform program that was characterized by black farmers grabbing white owned commercial farms back in the year 2 000 affected seed producing companies as most farmers lacked the knowledge then, DuPont Pioneer Zimbabwe country manager revealed on Tuesday.
DuPont Pioneer Zimbabwe Country Manager Temba Robert Nkatazo was briefing the Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation during a tour meant to ascertain the state of preparedness by seed companies to supply seed input for the 2016/2017 farming seasons.
“The laziness with seed companies then was that they had not groomed blacks to grow seeds, when chaos in the farms occurred the whites ran away with all their knowledge. Us, when we did our planning to prepare the farms we didn’t know that seed farming needs 600-700 metres away from the next farmer”, Nkataza said.
Nkataza said fifteen years after seizure of farms there were still chaos as some farmers were blocking other farmers access to water despite sharing the same farm however, he highlighted that Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa was moving around the country farms in a bid to ensure dams are utilised under the command agriculture.
Acting Chairperson of the Agriculture Committee Washington Musvaire had to plead with Nkataza to retract his statement after he blasted Minister of Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Joseph Made for putting a ban on seed export to East-African countries that had caused to seed market fluctuation, years back.
“From 1980 Zimbabwe was the best seed producer because of our climate, we exported seed to Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, we were basically producing seed for East Africa, then Made just wake up another day after have smoked something and said we have put a ban on exports”, Nkataza lamented.
Nkataza said the moratorium by Minister Made killed the export market of seeds as the companies producing seeds back then migrated to operate in the market countries.
Made is regarded as the worst Minister to have presided over the Ministry of Agriculture, leading to food insecurity in a country once recognised as the breadbasket of Africa.
DuPont Country Manager told the committee on agriculture that they had enough seeds in stock for this farming season and around 3 500 tonnes had been so far disbursed.
Managing Director of AgriSeeds Simon Nyanhete also confirmed that nearly 3 500 tonnes of seed had been dispatched to its 40 depots scattered around the country ready for the farming season.
Zimbabwe requires 32 000 tonnes of seed maize for each farming season.
DuPont Pioneer is an American company which operates in 120 countries, largest seed producer in the whole world with a turnover of US$78 billion. Two years ago DuPont Pioneer bought a South African company called Pannar which was operating mostly in Africa.