By Nyasha N Mukapiko
Government’s much hyped command agriculture being spearheaded by vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa who chairs the cabinet committee on food security failed to reach its targeted hectarage of 400 000 under maize, planting only 240k missing 157k.
Appearing before the agriculture committee Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Ringson Chikosi told the committee that 36 000 farmers had planted the 240k hectares under command agriculture.
Chikosi alluded the failure to meet the targeted hectarage to a late start in preparations and disbursement of inputs from suppliers.
“Mr Chairman! The late start in preparations for the program did not do us an good, since it’s a rolling program for 3 years we think that in 2017/2018 we will be better prepared as we have learnt the lessons, even the logistics for inputs distribution was a huge challenge”, Chikosi revealed.
Permanent secretary Chikosi said despite the late start of the season they were still optimistic, expecting a bumper harvest.
Norton legislator Temba Mliswa rubbished Chikosi remarks when he said they were going to do better in the next two seasons since command agriculture program was spread over three years.
“You do admit permanent secretary that command agriculture has failed, agriculture is about harvest. How much of that hectarage has received top dressing and why do you go to war without understanding the terrain of whom you going to fight? You can get the whole army killed”, Mliswa charged.
“We can’t seat here and be told we are on a learning curve and we are still learning”.
Mliswa said the whole command agriculture program had been politicised though being a government initiative to ensure food security and restore hey days in the agriculture sector.
Mliswa, a beneficiary of the command agriculture said he was already in the process of securing ammonium nitrate fertilisers for top dressing as there was no hope of disbursement from the ministry.
In his response to the Norton legislator Chikosi denied allegations that command agriculture had failed saying the season was still ongoing.
Last year in August the fertiliser manufacturing companies assured the nation of adequate inputs however during the tour of seed producing companies it emerged that government was struggling to pay for the inputs, leaving the companies with no option but to delay the release of the inputs.
Touring wheat farms in Lion’s Den last year, VP Mnangagwa assured the farmers that a total amount of US$515million needed for 400 000 hectares had been secured from the private sector to fund command agriculture.
Zimbabwe requires 2million metric tonnes of maize to feed its estimated 14million population.
By Nyasha N Mukapiko