Online applications to prevent farming inputs abuse
Nqobile Tshili/Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Chronicle Reporters
GOVERNMENT has come up with an online inputs distribution system specifically designed to prevent the abuse of the agricultural inputs under the Presidential Inputs Scheme ahead of the 2022/23 summer cropping season.
In the past, there have been reports of inputs abuse allegedly by some officials in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Development. In some cases, the officers deliberately omit names of qualifying farmers, excluding them from benefiting from Government’s Pfumvudza Input scheme.
In June, President Mnangagwa fired Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Development Deputy Minister Douglas Karoro following his arrest on charges of misconduct after he allegedly defrauded the Presidential Inputs Scheme of US$73 300 worth of inputs.
Several cases of inputs abuse are widespread and, in some cases, individuals have been nabbed for channelling inputs to the market.
Some beneficiaries of the programmes have also been selling the inputs, such as fertilisers, while others diverted them towards production of commodities outside the contracts.
In terms of Statutory Instrument 274 of 2018, it is a criminal offence to be found in possession of any agricultural inputs in excess of what the farmers need, unlawful sale, purchase and possession of agricultural produce or contracted crop and the misuse of farm inputs.
In an interview yesterday, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Dr John Basera said the online distribution application will address the abuse of inputs.
“In previous seasons, some agricultural extension officers were fingered in this scam of abusing inputs. In light of that, the ministry has come up with a raft of measures, which include an online input distribution application developed to monitor the distribution,” he said.
Dr Basera said all farmers will be registered and a verifiable online register will trace accountability.
He said the ministry will be taking Global Positioning System (GPS) co-ordinates where work is being done. Reports will then be produced online and verified at every stage of inputs distribution through their head office.
Dr Basera said apart from online distribution surveillance, the Government had established inputs distribution committees at community level to enhance transparency.
“Pursuant to the whole of Government approach, input distribution committees comprising local leadership, political leadership, security agencies, other ministries, departments and agencies have been set to enhance transparency and accountability,” he said.
“The other fundamental strategy is to ensure that inputs are only distributed to beneficiary households who would have adopted the key principles of conservation agriculture namely holing out, applying manure between June and August and mulching accumulation by September each year.”
The Government is targeting 3,5 million households countrywide to receive inputs for the 2022/23 farming season under the Climate-Proofed Presidential Inputs Scheme, popularly known as Intwasa/Pfumvudza.
Government is targeting to produce three million tonnes of maize during the 2022/23 summer cropping season, with land preparation already underway.
This comes as the Second Republic has made food security a top priority and is working towards a US$8,2 billion agriculture industry economy, contributing 20 percent of GDP by 2025, underpinned by the country’s National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) — the driver towards Vision 2030 to make Zimbabwe an upper middle-class economy.
The country requires 2,2 million tonnes of maize for human and livestock consumption and the three million tonnes target will position Zimbabwe as a significant player in grain production in the region.
Intwasa is a concept aimed at climate proofing agriculture by adopting conservation farming techniques and involves use of small plots and applying the correct agronomic practices for higher returns.
Under the programme, each farming household will get an input package comprising 10kg maize seed, 5kg sorghum, 2kg pearl millet, 5kg soya beans, 2kg sunflower/castor beans (castor bean will be inter-cropped in the Intwasa crops) and 5kg sugar beans or 5kg cowpeas or roundnuts. The seed types and varieties will depend on the farming region. -@nqotshili