Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Government is finalising a document to support livestock farmers under the Command Agriculture Scheme, with a draft of the policy now under Cabinet’s consideration.
This was said by Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Paddy Zhanda during the National Assembly’s question and answer session on Wednesday.
“We have just completed drafting what is required of Command Agriculture in terms of livestock and we have submitted the document to Cabinet,” he said. This policy is mainly directed at those farmers that did not benefit under the crops support scheme.
“This will benefit farmers mainly in Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South, parts of Midlands and Masvingo provinces where we have the largest population of cattle.”
In the current cropping season, farmers were given inputs as loans and are expected to deliver five tonnes per hectare of maize, while retaining the surplus.
The scheme haas ben a roaring success and Government expects production of up to 2,5 million tonnes of grains this season.
“Government will not grant a blanket amnesty for farmers who fail to meet the tonnage required in repayment of their loans contracts under Command Agriculture, but will determine each case on its merits,” Deputy Minister Zhanda said.
“We are aware that there were problems in some areas due to floods and late delivery of inputs,” he said. “We will, however, not give a blanket amnesty on those that fail to deliver the five tonnes per hectare as required by the contracts we entered into, but will look at each case on its own merits.”
Deputy Minister Zhanda said there were some unscrupulous farmers that benefited and diverted the inputs to the black market and would want to use the floods as an excuse to have the conditions of the contract waived.
The Command Agriculture Scheme was designed to run for three years and is part of Government’s drive to ensure the country is food self-sufficient.