Government has warned farmers against abusing inputs under its specialised Command Agriculture scheme, saying it will not hesitate to take drastic action against those caught in graft. Robust mechanisms have since been put in place to bring the culprits to book.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was the guest speaker at the official opening of Hombiro Clinic in Uzumba last Friday, said Government knows projected harvests of all farmers under the scheme.
His remarks come in the wake of unconfirmed reports that some beneficiaries from Mashonaland East Province were selling fuel coupons and other inputs allocated to them.
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Said VP Mnangagwa: “You must make sure that you put to good use the inputs that you received under Command Agriculture. We do not condone any forms of abuse or corruption on these inputs.
“If you receive inputs under this programme, be honest and truthful. We don’t want corruption. We will always catch up with you and we will not hesitate to take action. Remember, when you receive these inputs, you fill in forms with details showing projected yields.”
VP Mnangagwa said starting next year, Government would broaden the scope of Command Agriculture to include soya bean production with a view to meet required quantities by cooking oil producers. He said following the introduction of Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016, demand of soya beans by cooking oil companies rose sharply.
He said some cooking oil production companies which were operating below 20 percent were now operating at above 85 percent after the introduction of SI 64.
“Since the introduction of SI 64, some cooking oil companies who were operating at below 20 percent are now operating at over 85 percent and some even at 100 percent” he said.
VP Mnangagwa said some companies had reduced their labour force to below 500 employees owing to decreased production but have steadily increased to over 800. Figures at hand show that Zimbabwe requires 2,4 million tonnes of grain annually for human and livestock consumption.
VP Mnangangwa said under Command Agriculture, Government had already exceeded the 400 000 hectares of land required to produce enough maize by over 60 000 hectares of land.
Responding to Uzumba legislator Cde Simbaneuta Mudarikwa who had said his constituency had no market for their tomato produce, VP Mnangagwa said Government was working on decentralising the tomato plant in Norton to all provinces for easy access by tomato farmers.
“Each province should have a replica of the Zagrinda plant to reduce walking distances by farmers to and from Norton to sell their produce,” said VP Mnangagwa.
Meanwhile, farmer organisations and individual farmers said the Command Agriculture scheme was being hampered by logistical challenges such as transport. They urged the Government to address the problem for them to meet projected targets. A Bindura farmer who refused to be named said: “There are challenges in the transportation of the inputs and fears are that if the rains intensify before the inputs reach most farmers that may affect the yields.
“Fears are that transportation of the inputs may as well be affected by the rains since some of the roads will no longer be accessible. We are appealing to the Government that it should do everything in its capacity to ensure that the inputs reach all farmers on time.”