Govt tightens Command Agriculture screws

Govt tightens Command Agriculture screws
Published: 10 December 2017
GOVERNMENT is in the process of plugging leakages in the distribution of Command Agriculture and Presidential Agricultural Programmes inputs.

The move comes after reports that Command Agriculture inputs were abused during the 2016/2017 season.

Presenting his 2018 National Budget last week, Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa said Agricultural Technical and Extension Services (Agritex) and Command Agriculture Centre Officers will monitor distribution and utilisation of farming inputs.

"Command Agriculture programme monitoring will be strengthened through the capacitation of Agritex officers and Command Centre Officers at district and provincial level to enable them to undertake routine monitoring of the programme at every stage of the crop production cycle."

He said: "Government has thus moved in to plug potential leakages that could arise. In this regard, participating farmers are also required to complete the cost recovery stop order forms at the point of inputs collection."

In July, Government gazetted Statutory Instrument 79 of 2017 which criminalises unauthorised purchase, selling or disposal of inputs and crops linked to the programme, with offenders facing three months imprisonment. Previously, there were inadequate monitoring mechanisms for the programmes as farmers could easily access inputs using offer letters.

The manual data capture systems at district and provincial levels do not adequately monitor the collection of inputs by farmers. Some farmers therefore took advantage of the loophole to double-dip. Government is working towards capturing data electronically on the back of the Public Finance management System.

Minister Chinamasa also said farmers who benefited from Command Agriculture are being paid in full for grain delivered to Grain Marketing Board, despite their loan obligations.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union executive director Mr Paul Zakariya welcomed the new inputs distribution and monitoring mechanisms, saying farmers should appreciate that inputs are not free hand-outs.

"This is a step in the right direction because farming is business. Farmers should, therefore, be accountable," he said.

Meanwhile, Minister Chinamasa said the Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Ministry is validating Sakunda Holdings' expenditure commitments under the Command Agriculture programme, as well as values of inputs supplied and those collected by farmers. This is being undertaken with the support of the Accountant General and the Debt Management Office.
- sundaymail
Tags: Command,


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