Rains, inputs and work

The rains are upon us and many are already preparing for the 2011/12 agricultural season, but even though the government has stepped in, providing inputs to ‘peasants’, most people will not get the fertilizer or seed that is distributed on a partisan basis.

Since the chaotic land reform programme a decade ago, Zanu (PF) chefs, and those well-connected to the former ruling party, have helped themselves to the government input scheme. Whenever the inputs have cascaded to the lower tiers of society, they have been handed out on a partisan basis by agriculture extension officers who are mostly Zanu (PF) to the marrow.

In the Mashonaland East district where I come from, people started way back to prepare for yet another unpredictable agriculture season. They declared war on ant hills whose soils are often rich. They attacked them with picks and shovels, painstakingly spreading the anthill soil on their almost sterile lands in order to coax a meaningful harvest.

Even after the harvest in April and May, they took the maize stocks and stored them for food for their animals, and also as organic manure for this agriculture season.

Most of the farmers are women who do back breaking work from dawn to dusk. They could rest if only the government input scheme would trickle down to them, but then they cannot afford to slumber for they know they will never get the assistance they require.

It’s the life of ordinary Zimbabweans to work daily like ants and hope that the skies this year will be forthcoming with rains. They have little faith in the government input scheme, but look instead to the skies and the soil. – Sokwanele

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