By Alois Vinga
FINANCE Minister Mthuli Ncube Thursday allocated a combined $61.4 billion towards the three key security ministries while allocating just 5 kilogrammes of maize seed for poor and vulnerable households in the 2021 budget statement.
The proposed budget allocations for 2021 show that the Office of the President and Cabinet received $14.2 billion, Defence and War Veterans $23.7 billion and Home Affairs received $23.5 billion.
The allocations bring a total of $61.4 billion awarded to security related ministries.
The disbursements contradict many experts’ hopes for a pro-poor budget especially when compared to the paltry $4 billion set aside to support vulnerable households with farming implements.
“Supported by civil society partners and the private sector, focus is on promotion of the Pfumvudza/Intwasa farming concept among communities as a new farming business model.
“In this regard, the budget has set aside $4 billion for vulnerable households with farming inputs for maize, traditional grains, soya beans and cotton,” Ncube said.
Out of the amount, 1.8 million households are targeted with each getting 5kg maize seed, 1x50kg basal and 1x50kg top-dressing fertilisers, 200ml armyworm pesticide, as well as 5kg of oilseed (soyabean). For the drier regions, households are getting 2kg of small grain, 1x50kg basal and 1x 50kg top-dressing fertilisers, 200ml armyworm pesticide, as well as 1kg of oilseed.
He said this support will ensure household food security and income generation and through this programme alone, estimated yields of 2 tons per hectare, about 3.6 million tonnes of grain is expected from subsistence farmers under normal weather.
Despite an outcry from farmers over the laborious nature of the farming technique, Ncube said the concept has several advantages including climate proofing agriculture, less erosion and higher nutrient retention as well as reduced pest infestations, among others.
Even the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Ministry which takes care of the poor was allotted just $6.9 billion for the year 2021.