Bread Basket Again?

Zimbabwe is on the verge of reclaiming its position of bread basket of Southern Africa. If you believe the agriculture minister. Joseph Made, with the assistance of the Sunday Mail, made sensational predictions of a bumper harvest, based purely on the amount of agricultural inputs distributed to small- scale farmers. Shona proverb – counting mice by adding up their tails.

Beyond making these unsubstantiated claims, the Sunday Mail throws numbers into the air, intending to prove that Zimbabwe’s granaries were filled by peasants and not white commercial farmers. As far as maize production is concerned, that may be true but, as the saying goes, man shall not live by sadza alone. The country’s agriculture – ruined at the turn of the century by Mugabe’s chaotic land grabs – was admired the world over for its tobacco, wheat, horticulture, beef, dairy and cotton, all of which have died, thanks to Mugabe’s policy of taking productive land from competent farmers and placing it in the hands of cellphone farmers who live in the city and run their plots via remote control.

Statistics are not necessary when, all along the country’s highways, bushes grow where crops once flourished.

Temba Mliswa has branded Joseph Made a liar. Mliswa questioned the validity of Made’s prediction of a bumper harvest before stating that agricultural officers did not have the resources to carry out field assessments so it was likely that the agriculture ministry had pulled its estimates from thin air. Deputy Minister, Paddy Zhanda, admitted that his ministry had not done any actual inspection.

It is also very strange that Made based his prediction on the quantity of farming inputs distributed. These are after all the very same farmers who, after grabbing fully mechanised farms, proceeded to sell the tractors. During the hyperinflationary era, against all ancestral wisdom – “mbeu haidyiwe/ never eat the seed” – other farmers, faced with hunger, after receiving treated seed maize, rinsed off the green insecticidal coating and ground the seed into mealie-meal. It would shock no one to find that some of the 2013 seed never found its way into the ground.

In other parts of Zimbabwe, drought and floods have nullified government’s inputs distribution scheme. Whether we will have a bumper harvest or reap yet another harvest of thorns will be revealed in a month’s time. April beckons.

Till next week, my pen is capped. Jerà

Twitter: @JeraAfrika

Post published in: News
  1. Pito
  2. chindungu
  3. chindungu
  4. Robert

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *