Beneficiaries of the land reform programme who are producing potato seed in Nyanga (Zimbabwe) have expressed concern over high costs of production.
This, the farmers say, was making it difficult for resource-poor but interested farmers to break into the sector.
The cost of producing a hectare of potato seed is US$9 000 that is further compounded by fuel and labour costs.
"We are classified as a horticultural entity so our wages are higher than those of other sectors. For labour we have both the technical and non-technical staff, which makes our wage bill huge," Mr Edward Buwu of Nyanga Downs Farm said recently. Nyanga Downs Farm has a total of 185 permanent workers while during peak periods the number rises to 220. The cost of basic fertilisers such as Compound C is also a major concern.
A 50kg bag costs US$32. "Financing potato seed production is a major challenge to many farmers, which has forced us to rely heavily on borrowing from banks. "We get loans from CBZ Bank because the revenue from our operations falls short of covering all that we need to fund a new crop," he said.
Mr Buwu, who was resettled at Nyanga Downs in 2006, said potato seed production was a very delicate activity that was done under quarantined conditions in areas gazetted by the Government.