Lloyd Gumbo — MOST provinces countrywide are expecting a bumper harvest largely due to Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme, with ministers of state for provincial affairs bidding for the programmes to continue. Ministers of State in provinces outside the two metropolitan cities of Harare and Bulawayo said the two programmes had been highly successful, contrary to claims by people like Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, who has been using his Twitter handle to attack Command Agriculture while at the same time dismissing Government’s first crop assessment that points to a bumper harvest.
Command Agriculture is the brainchild of President Mugabe who appointed Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to spearhead its implementation in his capacity as chairperson of the Cabinet Committee on Food Security and Nutrition.
Minister of State for Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs, Cde Cain Mathema said Command Agriculture had come in handy in the province, one of the drier ones. “We are expecting much better yields this year compared to other years because of the Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Scheme,” said Minister Mathema.
“In fact, next Friday we will be attending a field day at Mujayeli Ndlovu’s who is one of our Command Agriculture beneficiaries near Solusi University. His crop is very beautiful. “We don’t understand why anybody should complain about Command Agriculture because some of us are very happy with the programme because it has increased yields significantly.
“Those who are complaining about it, what are they trying to achieve? In fact, we are tired of Cabinet ministers attacking other Cabinet ministers, it is foolish and must stop!”
Midlands Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Cde Jason Machaya, said while other areas such as Mberengwa and Zvishavane had been affected by the incessant rains because they planted late, generally the province expected a bumper harvest.
“We project that our yield will take us to the next farming season. The province will indeed be self-sufficient. Contrary to what other people may say, Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Scheme have done very well in Midlands,” said Minister Machaya.
Masvingo Provincial Minister Shuvai Mahofa added: “We expect a bumper harvest, which is something we have not experienced in the province for a very long time. Our only concern now are the incessant rains that may end up affecting the crops before and during harvest.
“Those who are criticising Command Agriculture, we don’t know their agenda. One of the people criticising Command Agriculture is from Tsholotsho, which is naturally a dry region but we understand that they have done well this year though this could be affected by the floods.
“People in this province used to be averse to applying chemicals on their crops for fear of affecting their soils. But Command Agriculture taught them that they can still apply chemicals and the soils remain fertile.
“Even beneficiaries of the Presidential Inputs Scheme learnt about applying chemicals from Command Agriculture and they applied it. Their crops are very good. The only concern in the province now is we don’t have adequate silos to stock the grain.”
Mashonaland Central Minister of State Advocate Martin Dinha, said his province would record surplus again following the record surplus of 72 000 tonnes last season.
“I can confidently tell you that we are going to have a bumper harvest. We are expecting about 412 000 tonnes of maize and I don’t see anything less than 150 000 tonnes of surplus. Every district in the province including Mbire and Muzarabani that are usually dry are going to contribute significantly.
“We applaud Government for coming up with Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Scheme that will definitely help the province to be self-sufficient and have surplus for selling.
“Our only worry now is on the marketing strategy because farmers have produced lots of grain, some of which will have to be sold to the Grain Marketing Board. “But Government must have sufficient drying facilities to make sure grain is well dried since we are expecting it to have high moisture content because of these rains,” said Minister Dinha.
Mashonaland East Minister of State, Brigadier-General (Rtd) Ambrose Mutinhiri said they expected up to 70 percent yield in the province.
“We are very hopeful that it will be a bumper harvest though obviously there were some teething problems such as late delivery of inputs. But this can be expected if something is being done for the first time. But Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Scheme are very necessary and good programmes,” he said.
Mashonaland West Minister of State Faber Chidarikire added: “We expect a bumper harvest throughout the province. Yields will definitely be very high.
“Command Agriculture is a very good programme though obviously it needs polishing here and there. It was a learning curve since this was the first time. The majority of people in the province appreciate the programme.
“But you should also understand that there are some people who never appreciate good things because they are used to being in the opposition.”
Manicaland Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Manditawepi Chimene said farmers in the province expected high yields although there were challenges of late delivery of inputs here and there.
“People here responded to Command Agriculture in a positive way. I am very satisfied with the expected yield. I am anticipating a bumper harvest. The only concern that is there is that the early crop may be affected by the continued rains during drying but the late crop is enjoying the rains.
“As for the Cabinet ministers arguing about this programme, I think they know each other and I am not qualified to talk about those line ministries because I am only presiding over a corner of the country.
“But if they do not agree on the programme, it is up to them, as for me here, I am satisfied with what we have and the yield we are expecting,” said Cde Chimene.
Her Matabeleland South counterpart Minister Abednico Ncube added: “We are expecting high yields here. Command Agriculture has done well in areas such as Arda-Ngwizi, Plumtree and Maphisa under the supervision of Vice President Mnangagwa.
“We will not waste time listening to people criticising Command Agriculture because it is clear for everyone that this is a good programme. Government has done very well by coming up with Command Agriculture.”