Zimbabwean farmers are concerned by the continued rise in prices of essential inputs such as fertilizer and fuel as the farming season approaches. The farmers have called upon the government to intervene as there is a risk that most of them will not be able to afford the inputs they need in order to ensure a good yield. Zimbabwe is already suffering from grain shortages that have driven up the cost of staple maize meal and other inputs. The war in Ukraine has also not helped matters.

We have an excessive profiteering problem in our nation, where individuals want to earn a lot of money in one night, but there will be very few buyers due to the high prices

…There is a need for the government to intervene in the short term through targeted and time limited input subsidies so as to alleviate the plight of vulnerable farmers and to ensure affordable and viable inputs

Shadreck Makombe the president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union

There has indeed been a sustained rise in the price of basic inputs like fertilizer. Part of the reason for this is the war in Ukraine between Russia and Ukraine both of whom are fertilizer exporters. Last year a 50kg bag of Ammonium Nitrate (also known as “top”) was selling for a palatable US$35-3-US$38 but now it is selling at a staggering US$55-US$60 this year. Compound D is now selling for almost US$40 per bag up from US$30.

Farmers have also lamented the high cost of diesel which is an essential input, especially in commercial farming where the use of ox-drawn ploughs is not feasible. Ever since the war in Ukraine broke out diesel has been selling at prices over the US$1.60 mark. Diesel was going for US$1.33 per litre in September last year with most service stations selling at well below this price. Now the ZERA-approved price for diesel stands at a whopping US$1.74 with a lot of service stations selling at prices very close to this.

Government intervention would be risky too. The government is already spending too much money resulting in excessive money growth especially driven by money spent on contractors. Adding farmers to the mix would stretch an already overwhelmed budget. The resultant money growth might do more harm to the wider economy.

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