The Sunday News
Rutendo Nyeve, Sunday News Reporter
THE Government is expediting the distribution of inputs under the climate-proofed Presidential Input Scheme – Pfumvudza/Intwasa ahead of the beginning of the summer cropping season with more than 5 000 tonnes of maize seed out of 14 000 tonnes having so far been moved to various depots across the country for distribution to farmers.
Measures have also been put in place to curb corruption and other malpractices and ensure equitable distribution of inputs to all deserving farmers in the country’s communities. Chief Director Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory Services in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Professor Obert Jiri told Sunday News in an interview that the distribution of inputs was in progress in all the country’s provinces. He said hopes were high that the inputs would get to the farmers in time for the summer cropping season and urged farmers to continue with land preparations.
“The inputs distribution programme is proceeding quite well. I am happy to say out of 14 000 tonnes of maize seed that we are supposed to move, we have so far moved slightly over 5 000 tonnes. Of that 5 000 tonnes we have distributed more than 26 percent of the maize seed across the provinces. All provinces have distributed quite a large chunk of the maize seed.
“We have also distributed traditional grains particularly sorghum. We have seen around 90 tonnes of sorghum having been distributed to parts of the country that are suited for the small grains. In terms of fertilisers, we have so far distributed 19 percent of what we have in the GMB depots. This is particularly for basal dressing although this is not to say we are not giving top dressing. We are also giving it out together with other inputs and farmers in Midlands, Matabeleland South and other provinces have received much of the inputs. The programme is moving quite well and these are figures as of last week which means that they have since gone up,” said Prof Jiri.
He added that it was encouraging that communities have overwhelmingly embraced the programme with the number of trained farmers and land prepared almost doubling last season’s figures. The accelerated efforts towards the preparations for the summer cropping season has seen both Government and farmers playing their role in ensuring the nation is ready for an increased yield and ensure food security.
Prof Jiri said 1.5 million farmers were trained last season for the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme and this year the number increased to a record-breaking margin of 2.5 million farmers so far.
“As farmers wait for the rains, we expect them to keep training. We have trained over 2.5 million farmers to date which is record-breaking. We have seen an increase in farmers embracing Pfumvudza/Intwasa, particularly pot-holing where 3.862 million plots have been prepared by the farmers across the country and slightly under half a million farmers or households have done mulching. We have also seen farmers who have done liming to ensure the soil is conditioned. So, these are some of the things that the farmers should continue doing as they wait for the effective rains. We have seen that it has been raining across the country but these are not effective rains so we expect farmers to continue preparations, stock their inputs and continue with Pfumvudza/Intwasa pot-holing,” said Prof Jiri.
The Government has also set up measures to curb corruption and malpractices in the distribution of inputs.
“All inputs are going through GMB for accountability purposes which then moves it to distribution centres. At the GMB, inputs are collected by the Agricultural Extension officer or the Agricultural Business Advisor together with the chairperson of the committee and their representative of the distribution committee. It is made up of the chairperson who is the local councillor, deputised by an appointee of the chief and the secretary is the extension officer deputised by the local headmaster. There are also representatives from the women and youths from the particular area.
“All this is done to ensure the process is transparent and auditable. We are distributing using lists that are in the areas and these are then uploaded in our data base that include farmers who are all registered so we should have an auditable system where we can cross check physical lists as well as lists from our system. This is important for accountability,” said Prof Jiri.
The country is already basking in glory after recording high yields of wheat expected to cover the national needs for the next 13 months.