Nkgono Jane says...
As farmers, you have experienced a very difficult year – it is planting time again and we do really hope that this will be a year of normal rainfall and good crops. If you all continue to work hard and do the right thing, when the rains fall then you will be in a position to benefit from the season. Remember always to do the right thing at the right time and you will benefit.
Most of the production inputs for the Jobs Fund Project were delivered in October – we were particularly anxious to deliver the lime so that the farmers could spread it in time. Each farmer has to take one ton of lime to his/her fields. This is heavy and very tiring – however, the importance of lime for the lands with a low pH cannot be overemphasised – the crop cannot access any fertiliser if the lands are too acidic. Knowing the pH of your soils is very important for your success as a crop farmer.
Unfortunately, due to the drought, there are many farmers who were not able to pay off their production loans from the past season. The financial institutions understand this and where possible, they are willing to help again. However, it is really important that you play open cards with your financiers – never try to conceal any income, and never deliver in someone else’s name. We know that sometimes you are desperate for money, being dishonest is not the way to be if you are planning to be a farmer. You must always disclose your crop and your whole income to your financiers – they will be willing to stand by you if they feel that you are being honest. If they doubt your honesty and integrity, they will not walk the road with you and you will find yourself in deep trouble.
In this season, if you could all go back to the basics and do those right – remember to prepare your lands and do not allow weeds to compete with your crop; plant the right cultivar at the right population for your area; use the correct fertiliser at the correct application rate – if you do all these things then you should have a good chance of getting a good crop. We find that some farmers try to use the inputs for a larger area of land – it is better to plant a smaller area and to do that really well, then to plant a large area and skimp on the inputs. There are optimal rates for everything.
If you are unfortunate and have to make use of contractors – it will help a lot of you are present when they are working so that you can ensure that they work correctly. It is very expensive to use contractors and you must insist on getting value for your money.
Good luck for this season – we will continue to pray for rain!
Publication: November 2016