CHINHOYI — Desperate A1 farmers struggling to put food on the table and fund their agricultural activities have resorted to barter trade.
Most of them have parted ways with their cattle in exchange for grain, particularly maize, as well as bags of fertiliser to try and save their failing crops in the midst of incessant rains that have pounded the area in the past few weeks.
A survey conducted by NewsDay in Mashonaland West Province showed that most A1 farmers were struggling to buy ammonium nitrate (AN) and Compound D fertiliser after the Presidential Well-wishers Agricultural Inputs Scheme failed to be rolled out this time round.
As a result, “enterprising” businesspersons from the nearby towns of Chegutu, Kadoma, Karoi and Chinhoyi have descended on the A1 farmers in outlaying areas such as Magogi, Dowa, Mhangura, Hurungwe and Mutorashanga where they are trading grain and fertiliser in exchange of beasts.
“I am a widow and I have for the past years benefitted from the free agricultural inputs, but this time around nothing came hence this predicament I find myself in,” one affected farmer, Eneresi Majoto of Village 2, Magogi said.
“I had no option, but to part with one of my cattle so that I can at least feed and pay school fees for my four children and also put fertiliser in my maize field. Already the crop is facing nutrients deficiency and was going to die if I hadn’t taken a drastic measure.”
Majoto said she sold her two-year-old heifer for a paltry $200 to a trader who gave her two bags of AN fertiliser, a 90kg of maize grain, while the remainder was paid in cash.
A 50kg bag of AN normally costs $34.
A headman, Joseph Rinodyiwa said the food situation in his area was dire and most communal farmers were in urgent need of food assistance.