Govt pays tobacco, maize farmers $1,4bn
Patrick Chitumba and John Manzongo—
GOVERNMENT has so far paid a whopping $1,4 billion to tobacco and maize farmers, and is expecting to pay an additional $600 million since 60 percent of maize farmers have not yet made deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said. Addressing farmers, senior Government officials and party members after touring ARDA Mbuya Nehanda Estates in Mashonaland West and Fair Acres Estate in Midlands, yesterday, Acting President Mnangagwa said the money had so far accrued to ordinary Zimbabweans, who successfully produced maize and tobacco in the 2016/2017 farming season.
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Of the amount, tobacco farmers were paid $1 billion, while the remainder was paid to maize farmers under the Presidential Input Support Scheme and Command Agriculture, who have delivered over one million tonnes. The overall resource envelope to farmers, he said, was expected to be relatively higher considering other crops such as wheat, cotton and soyabeans. “Farming in the country has this year enriched a lot of people in line with Zanu-PF’s Zim-Asset agenda premised on socio-economic growth,” said Acting President Mnangagwa.
“Tobacco farmers got $1 billion, while maize farmers have so far been paid $400 million and more is expected to be paid to soyabeans, cotton and other farming produce. So, we are talking of $1,4 billion that has gone to the pockets of the people, and the people’s lives should improve. Command Agriculture and Presidential Input schemes should make our people rich.” Acting President Mnangagwa said payments to farmers under Command Agriculture were being made possible by millers that were paying Government in advance for maize.
As a result, GMB is now paying farmers within 14 days of grain deliveries, he said. “GMB has been able to pay farmers on time for delivered maize; 14 days is too much as most farmers are getting their money from between seven to 10 days,” said Acting President Mnangagwa.
“This is a welcome development aimed at enriching the ordinary people. That is what the Zanu-PF Government under the leadership of President Mugabe has been advocating for. Those who want to get rich should support these Zanu-PF programmes.” Acting President Mnangagwa said there was need to set up driers and milling points in every province so that there won’t be need to ferry grain for milling to other provinces.
He urged Zimbabweans to embrace Command Agriculture and the Presidential Input Support Scheme, including other Zanu-PF socio-economic empowerment programmes. Acting President Mnangagwa said women and youths should consider venturing into livestock production, where loans had a longer tenure compared to grain loans. “Government has unveiled so many opportunities to its citizens and there is no need for people to lag behind; join the programme and find where you can fit,” he said. “We are funding goat, piggery, sheep and poultry projects, what you just need to do is come forward with your proposal and request. We are also looking at prospects of funding those in wildlife sector, which is a bit sophisticated sector.”
About 1,8 million households, said Acting President Mnangagwa, would receive free inputs under the Presidential Input Support Scheme. “The Presidential Input Support Scheme is for free and 1,8 million households will get free inputs, which include fertiliser, chemicals and seed — enough for one hectare, and the households have started receiving them for this summer season,” he said. He implored Ministers in charge of provinces to closely monitor and supervise Government initiatives, as the most productive provinces will be rewarded.
Acting President Mnangagwa commended ARDA for reviving Fair Acres and Mbuya Nehanda Arda estates that were struggling. He promised that Government will assist the estates to expand their hectarage to more than 1 000 hectares, which will be put under irrigation all year round. Government is actively pushing for small grains production, as 50 tonnes of small grains have been delivered to the GMB.
Acting President Mnangagwa was accompanied by Finance and Economic Development Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo, Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Dr Joseph Made and Air Marshal Perence Shiri, among other delegates.