Farmers call for probe inputs probe

Small scale tobacco farmers resettled under the land reform programme have called for an investigation into the way farming inputs are distributed.

The government recently unveiled a $161m farming input scheme, covering seed, fertiliser, chemicals and livestock for communal, resettlement, smallscale and A1 farmers in Zimbabwe’s 2013-14 agricultural season.

In an interview with The Zimbabwean, tobacco farmer John Chitauro raised concerns about the alleged looting of inputs.

“A proper investigation should be carried out to ensure that those abusing the scheme are brought to book and prosecuted,” he said.

Farmers said they were not receiving enough fertiliser and chemicals for, alleging that these were being stolen by Zanu (PF) and senior army officials.

“They are reselling the free inputs and they hire farmers to farm on their behalf with the intention of splitting the profits from harvest sales,” said another farmer.

“It is the ordinary Zimbabwean farmer and citizen who is being affected by this corruption because the inputs are surfacing on the black market, being sold at extortionate rates.”

Simon Hunda, the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers’ Trust, said anomalies in the inputs scheme were not surprising.

“To start with, the army should not be playing an active role in the distribution of farming inputs. They are only likely to give them to their friends and a few well-connected farmers,” he said.

Army colonels Michael Murecherwa and Bernard Mzilikazi were implicated in the scam, but both described the allegations as baseless.

Said Murecherwa: “These are unfounded allegations. These are the comments of my detractors who are jealous of my success as a farmer. It is unfortunate that there are some people who want to tarnish my image as a senior army officer. Everything is above board. We are distributing the inputs fairly and equally. We are open for an audit.”

Mzilikazi said: “We have been having the same problems especially at this time of the year where we distribute the inputs. The same people have been complaining all along. We know there are people who want to cause confusion.”

Post published in: Agriculture
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