Winter wheat inputs provided by the Government for the 2020 season could have been abused, submissions made to legislators by Secretary for Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Dr John Basera suggest.
Dr Basera told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Lands, Water and Rural Resettlement chaired by Gokwe Nembudziya MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena that Government had availed inputs for at least 54 356 hectares, but only 37 708 hectares had been planted and had already germinated.
He said his ministry was now doing a verification exercise to establish what happened to the remainder of the inputs, given that planting for the current season is now over.
“We are still doing some verification exercise because inputs we have distributed so far are worth 54 000 hectares on average,” said Dr Basera.
He said inputs that had been provided include fertiliser, seed, crop chemicals, fuel and working capital.
“We are still carrying out some verification exercise so that we see where the balance of inputs is.”
Dr Basera’s comments come at a time when Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka accused some officials of abusing the winter wheat inputs facilities.
She said some officials had accessed winter wheat inputs, but did not have the required irrigation water.
“What are we doing with those inputs? Why have we become so cruel that we allow such nastiness to happen?”
Minister Mliswa-Chikoka made the comments at a function held in Chinhoyi to empower farmers in pig farming recently.
But on a positive note, Zimbabwean farmers planted over 42 000 hectares of winter wheat this year and were likely to harvest over half the annual requirement.
Hectarage, for the first time in the past five years is likely going to exceed 42 000ha, according to Dr Basera.
“There was to some extent uninterrupted (power) supply and we are likely going to break some records even in terms of productivity.
“I am not a good prophet but we might exceed five-and-a-half tonnes per hectare, so that would be some good news, especially if we exceed 42 000ha,” he said.
Government’s initial target for this year was 80 000ha where 65 000ha was under Command Agriculture while 15 000ha would be private sector led.
The target of 80 000ha was not met because of an array of challenges like late delivery of inputs and non-availability of adequate water.