By Robert Tapfumaneyi
OUTSPOKEN Norton MP, Temba Mliswa has described the recently introduced government-funded Pfumvudza farming programme as another scheme created to loot state resources.
Pfumvudza, the government’s climate proofed presidential inputs programme, is a farming method that was revived by the government for the 2020/21 summer farming season to support small-scale farmers who have limited farming equipment to optimise their production and ensure household and national food and nutrition security.
Small-scale farmers who have been supplied with free farming inputs by the government are expected to produce 1.8 million tonnes of maize and 360 000 tonnes of oilseeds.
However, Mliswa said the much-touted Pfumvudza was a failure and a waste of resources. He also claimed the scheme was open for abuse and most of the inputs would find their way onto the black market.
“During this time of the season, you see many shops that sell agricultural inputs being set up. The recent arrest of a councillor and Agritex officers is because of the cartel they have set up to sell government inputs from government,” said Mliswa.
“Agritex must ensure that farmers receiving inputs under the Pfumvudza programme have land. They must be able to account for it rather being excited that 1.8 million seed packs have been distributed when half of it is being sold on the black market.”
A Chegutu councillor, two soldiers and a police officer were last week arrested for allegedly diverting $1,1 million worth of inputs meant for small-scale farmers under Pfumvudza.
Also, in Chegutu, a general hand at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depot, two Agritex extension workers, and a transporter were also arrested. They allegedly inflated the list of beneficiaries using names of non-existent farmers before grabbing tonnes of inputs.
Councillor (Independent) for Ward 23 Ngoni Mupfudza (51), two master sergeants at Jason Ziyapapa Moyo Airbase – Perfect Dhliwayo (36) and Talent Chiota, two Agritex employees – Margret Manda (49) and Patricia Chemhazo (53), a general had at GMB Pepukai Mamvura (26), Constable Bridget Mutondoro of ZRP Chegutu and a transporter Dominic Zinyakatira appeared at Chegutu Magistrates’ Court and were freed on bail.
Mliswa said the government, instead of embarking on Pfumvudza should have identified farmers with the capacity, provide them with agriculture inputs, and revive obsolete irrigation infrastructure.
“From a food security point of view, we must be identifying farmers with the capacity so that we deal with national food security,” Mliswa told NewZimbabwe.com Tuesday.
“The rainfall pattern has not been good, so how much will be harvested and how much is lost in terms of millions of dollars in buying inputs.
“If those inputs were going to empower farmers with A2 farms, rehabilitating irrigation infrastructure and making sure that farmers given inputs have the capacity, and will be able to see the season through because of the irrigation which is there.”
The politician who is also into large-scale described farming as having irrigation infrastructure.
“We have got water bodies which are plenty but what is lacking is the irrigation facilities which are not there. So it is important that we are seen rehabilitating the irrigation infrastructure for us to be able to make sure that we are food secure.
“We are importing so much when we don’t need to import and priority is important. What the people in the rural areas want is food security.