‘Govt puts in place mechanisms to support farmers with agric inputs’
VICE President Phelekezela Mphoko yesterday said the Government has started putting mechanisms in place to support farmers with agricultural inputs ahead of the 2016/2017 farming season.
He made the remarks as he distributed an additional 2 600 chicks to the community in Mpopoma-Pelandaba Constituency in Bulawayo.
“The Government has already started preparations for the farming season and we are going to assist farmers with agricultural inputs such as maize and cotton seeds and fertiliser. In some parts of the country where rainfall is low, the Government has agreed with farmers that they can exchange their small grains for maize. We also urge farmers to plough early and no one should starve since this time we have enough facilities to assist our people,” he said.
The Acting President urged farmers to cultivate drought-tolerant crops like sorghum and millet.
The Government recently introduced the $500 million command agriculture scheme aimed at ensuring maize self-sufficiency this year.
e registration of farmers willing to take part in the programme has already started, with the Government inviting those interested in the scheme to register with Agritex officers in their respective areas.
The programme, which aims to produce two million tonnes of maize on 400 000 hectares of land, will see identified farmers being given inputs, irrigation and mechanised equipment. The farmers, to work under strict supervision, will be required to commit five tonnes per hectare to the Government as repayment for the inputs and agricultural equipment.
They will retain surplus produce for personal use. At least 2 000 farmers are expected to participate in the scheme and will sign performance-based contracts for three consecutive growing seasons. The Government’s decision to embark on command agriculture was necessitated by the rise in national food insecurity from about 12 percent in 2011 to 42 percent this year.
The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee Report says four million people need food aid this year because of an El-Ninoinduced drought.
Other Government programmes such as the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme will remain in place to complement the command agriculture.
The Vice President has so far donated more than 30 000 chicks under the on-going poultry programme aimed at reducing poverty and bringing development to local communities.
The chicks are part of the poultry project the VP unveiled last month. The programme which is anchored on the country’s economic blueprint, Zim-Asset, seeks to empower communities through utilising local resources.
He will next Sunday donate another batch of chicks to residents in the same constituency before rolling the programme to other provinces.
The chicks were sourced from commercial white farmer Mr Peter Cunningham who owns Maleme Farm in Matobo district. — @ mashnets