Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
FARMERS were yesterday reminded that Command Agriculture was not a vote-buying gimmick ahead of 2018 harmonised elections and that they will be made to account for everything they receive.
Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa said farming inputs availed to farmers were meant to ensure the country attained food self-sufficiency and that it would be unfortunate for anyone to think Government was playing politics.
He said farmers participating in the scheme would have to work hard to produce as they would be held accountable.
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Under Command Agriculture, the Government made available seed, fertiliser, chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides and fuel to farmers.
The Acting President also warned politicians, senior army officers and other highly-placed individuals to desist from collecting inputs from districts because these were meant for the disadvantaged and ordinary farmers.
He fired the warning shots yesterday during a visit to farms in Mashonaland Central Province to assess progress.
He was accompanied by Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made, Minister of State for Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Advocate Martin Dinha, Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Mr Justin Mpamhanga, Air Force Commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, Agricultural and Rural Development Authority chairman Mr Basil Nyabadza and Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development chairman Cde Christopher Chitindi, among other senior officials.
The team toured Melfort Farm in Bindura, where it was welcomed by Zanu-PF national commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, Zanu-PF Mashonaland Central acting provincial chairman Cde Dickson Mafios and the farm owner, Dr Mariyawanda Nzuwah, before touring Cregowner Farm in Glendale where it visited Mr Revesai Vavarirai’s small-scale farm.
The team wound its tour at Zanadu Farm in Mazowe belonging to Colonel Chriden Kanouruka.
Addressing farmers during the tours, Acting President Mnangagwa said farmers who participated in Command Agriculture would be required to deliver five tonnes per hectare to Government to cover the costs of inputs.
He said gone were the days when farmers would receive inputs for free as Command Agriculture was a different programme, which required farmers to follow the regulations.
“Command farming is a command,” said Acting President Mnangagwa. “You should follow instructions. For instance, army officials receive commands. If you are told to turn left you turn left and not right. If you do not follow the commands you will be dealt with.
“We used to give you inputs so you could vote for us, but this time you will vote for us and we will follow up on our inputs. Tanga tajaira kukupai zvinhu tisingateverere kuti mutivhotere. Iko zvino toti mutivhotere tichikuteverererayi.
“No one is going to be forced to join command farming. Once you join, you have to be accountable for the seed, fertilisers, fuel and other inputs. There is nothing for free.”
Acting President Mnangagwa said cotton farmers had been receiving free inputs under the Presidential inputs scheme for the past two seasons, but the system would change after the third season as the farmers would be required to pay for the input packages.
Cde Mnangagwa said Government would deal accordingly with farmers who sold command farming inputs.
“We have given farmers seed, fertiliser, extension services and we have given others tractors for tillage and obviously, they will not get less than five tonnes,” he said.
Acting President Mnangagwa said Government would also consider some technicalities, especially for farmers under dry land farming.
He said Government would consider the inputs given to the farmers and hard working farmers might be taken on board next season even if they failed to get the targeted five tonnes per hectare.
On senior officials collecting inputs from districts, Cde Mnangagwa said they should desist from such practices or face the wrath of Government.
“When people were applying for command farming, they were made to indicate if they had capacity to collect inputs from Harare or if they did not have,” he said. “Farmers who required huge tonnages of inputs were made to collect from Harare because they had indicated their capacity to do so.
“Now we are told some senior officials are now collecting inputs from districts at the expense of other small scale farmers and in some cases taking the whole lorry’s load. This is unacceptable and whoever has been doing so should stop that. Uyo anga achizviita ngaabva achera kakomba pasi apfire mate.”
Dr Made said there were problems with officials who abused their offices when it came to inputs and the issue was raised during the last Central Committee meeting.
“Some people are taking advantage of their positions to collect inputs. We strongly warn anyone doing so to desist from such behaviour,” he said.
“Chefs should respect other farmers. At the end of the day these farmers may be queuing for a few bags. It is better to let those with small quantities collect first. They should not be denied the inputs.”
Mashonaland Central Minister of State, Advocate Martin Dinha, said there had been an outcry from farmers over influential people who were collecting inputs from districts instead of Harare.
“Most of these culprits are officials from the army and politicians,” he said. “Some of these ordinary farmers would have spent days queuing for inputs only for a senior official to come and collect the whole load that would have been delivered.”
The Government is targeting to produce over two million tonnes of maize from 400 000 hectares to be tilled under Command Agriculture.