Some Goodhope commercial farmers are likely to have nothing to sell at the end of the harvesting period this year, following the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) delay to provide contract services.
The Ministry, through one of its hubs, the National Master for Arable Agriculture and Dairy Development (NAMPAADD), was on contractual basis paid to plough and plant rainfed crops in approximately 680 hectares of land, by a total number of 15 Goodhope commercial farmers.
However, the hub has delayed to complete the services and left 380 hectares of land plain for seven farmers. ┬á
The farmers are, therefore, reportedly worried about the hub’s services, saying its delay to complete the service when the rainy season began towards the end of last year has resulted in their fields losing the moisture necessary for planting. They fear that with unpredictable rainfall, planting during this time could result in the seedling crops failing to develop into commercially viable products.
Before referring interview questions to NAMPAAD office, the Ministry of Agriculture, Media Officer, Epena Ngatangue, confirmed the delay to complete the contract services, and added that they had received the complaints from the farmers.
NAMPAAD Agricultural Scientific Officer, Takobana Mbulawa, said they are working around the clock to address the complaints.
The Telegraph has learnt that the farmers, who are behind schedule, were supposed to, this time, have their crops developing through different stages while waiting for further growth from the expected rainfall.
Mbulawa attributed the delay to plant to the long season of drought, saying after the much awaited rainfall which came two months late, farmers flocked to their offices demanding ploughing services. He said the situation overwhelmed their few farming machinery, which after experiencing breakdowns took them a very long time to repair as they imported necessary parts from South Africa.
The officer said after repairing the farm machinery, among them tractors and planters, the fields were already dry and not suitable for cultivation.┬á
He added that the delay was also brought by poor access roads to the ploughing fields, a situation which forced them to use very long routes.
“The roads are narrow for our machines. Farmers should also be blamed for the delay because they are not taking heed of NAMPAAD plea to prepare widely open roads,” said Mbulawa.
Efforts to speak to the farmers proved futile.
NAMPAAD has established farmer service centre to provide contract services for ploughing, planting and harvesting of rainfed crops in Goodhope commercial farms.