Extension officers blamed for poor farming

Villagers claim they have been forced to neglect land and engage in bad farming practices because agricultural officers have been demanding bribes.

A villager walks in a heavily silted river. Bad farming practices are being blamed on corruption among Agritex officers. The officers, though, say they are simply overwhelmed with work.
A villager walks in a heavily silted river. Bad farming practices are being blamed on corruption among Agritex officers. The officers, though, say they are simply overwhelmed with work.

People who spoke to The Zimbabwean said most rivers were heavily silted because farmers were cultivating the banks of streams.

“The extension officers are responsible for imparting knowledge to farmers, but these days they are professing ignorance and spend their time doing their private business,” said one villager, Max Nyashanu.

He added that most officers were demanding bribes for any consultation.

“You have to part with a chicken or goat to get services. They are lazy and greedy. We are poor and we can’t pay them more,” he added.

Nyashanu’s sentiments were echoed by Easter Chirozva, who said it was the duty of the Agritex to encourage villagers to put in contour ridges to prevent soil erosion.

She said gone were the days when the officers convened meetings with villagers to pass on new ideas and methods of farming to improve productivity.

Villages also blamed the District Development Fund (DDF) for failing to construct contours along rivers. They said DDF was no longer visible in their community and its workers were spending time sleeping or camping at their Buhera offices.

A local extension worker denied they were demanding bribes but said they were “overwhelmed by demand”.

“Most of extension workers left the country during the height of the economic meltdown in 2008 and we are now few. We cover a large area and we don’t have enough resources. Usually after carrying out an exercise, villagers give us gifts without coercion,” he said.

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