Inputs sold for a song

Command agriculture inputs sold on black market

24 November 2016

INPUTS being under the government’s command agriculture scheme are being sold on the black market for a song, opposition parties have claimed.

Similar problems were experienced under previous programmes when former central bank governor Gideon Gono handed out inputs and equipment in a bid to boost productivity among newly resettled farmers.

The scheme left the central bank with a $200m black hole on its books.

Government recently launched the so-called command agriculture scheme backed by over $500 million whose origins remain a mystery in an administration unable to pay salaries on time.

Unlike in the past where the inputs were given to anyone with farmland, the strategy now is targeting commercial farmers.

However, MDC-T Member of Parliament (MP) for Musikavanhu constituency Prosper Mutseyami appealed to the Agriculture ministry to investigate how inputs distributed under command agriculture have been utilised.

“We have seen that in areas where Command agriculture is being implemented, diesel is being sold on the black market,” Mutseyami said in parliament on Wednesday.

“Part of the seed inputs and fertiliser that are being allocated is being sold on the black market at very cheap prices.

“One can get a 50kg bag of fertiliser for less than US$12 leaking from the Command agriculture.”

Frank Chamunorwa, opposition PDP Secretary for Agriculture, said government should have stuck with the model of distribution which allowed every farmer to benefit.

“A 10kg of maize seed is selling for about $28, an amount which most of the farmers are unable to afford,” he said in a statement this Thursday.

“However, if the government had subsidised all farmers by reducing the price of maize seed, this would have gone a long way in assisting all the farmers in the country and ensuring that the targeted harvest in the 2016-2017 farming season is met.

The programme has also been described as a looting spree for senior Zanu PF and government officials.

Critics have already concluded that command agriculture programme will fail amid renewed farms invasions, and the awarding of inputs to undeserving farmers.

“The selection process is very questionable coupled with the selling their inputs on the black market.

“Past government programmes, such as Operation Maguta or Inala in 2006 were a disaster because of Zanu PF’s poor planning and looting of inputs and farm equipment,” Chamunorwa said.

Food insecurity has risen from 11 percent in 2011 to 42 percent this year.