Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau
AT least 920 smallholder farmers in Midlands have benefited from Government’s free tillage programme.
The programme was launched last December in Lower Gweru and is being implemented by the District Development Fund with 460,5ha being tilled to date.
DDF Midlands province land development officer Mr Fanuel Mkwananzi said the programme was still ongoing.
“To date, we have done 460,5ha that has benefited 921 smallholder farmers or villagers. This is an ongoing programme and more are going to benefit from this programme that is aimed at ensuring food security and nutrition,” he said.
Mr Mkwananzi said DDF has been to all the districts as it spreads out the programme to target small holder farmers from across the province.
“Smallholder famers in Kwekwe, Mvuma, Gweru, Shurugwi, Zvishavane, Mberengwa, Gokwe North and South districts have benefited,” he said.
Mr Mkwananzi said DDF was facing challenges such as the availability of fuel and a depleted tractor fleet.
“Government paid for fuel, but we are failing to access it from some service stations and that derails the programme. Some of our tractors have broken down and we are in the process of getting them fixed and that too has affected the smooth running of the programme.
“We need more fuel because about 32 litres of diesel are required to do a hectare and therefore the need for continuous fuel supplies so that we don’t stop tilling the land for the farmers,” he said.
Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs Larry Mavima said Government is assisting farmers to ensure food security and nutrition.
There are about 40 working tractors in the Midlands province and there are others from More Food for Africa which have been divided across the eight districts.
“Government has noted that some small holder farmers are incapacitated to plant their crops and has come up with this noble idea which is coming at no cost for the villagers,” he said.
He said nationally the Government poured in $8, 5 million for the programme.
Minister Mavima said after availing farming inputs, Government could not allow smallholder farmers to fail.
“So DDF tractors are tilling at least half an acre for every beneficiary to enable them to plant.
“Government noted that most villagers lost their draught animal power and have no money to hire tractors to till their land. Government released $8,5 million for this process nationally and let me reiterate that beneficiaries should be the most vulnerable households selected by the local leadership,” he said.