By Daniel Makamba
MAZOWE – Mashonaland Central province farmers have expressed positivity over government’s efforts in fulfilling the electoral manifesto on broadening access to agricultural financing and inputs as a step towards promoting inclusive development as well as opening the sector to global business markets.
During the 2018 harmonized election campaign the ruling party government promised to unlock access to agricultural finance and inputs through enhancing the Command Agriculture funding model as well as provision of free inputs under the Presidential Input Support Scheme for maize, soya beans and cotton.
In an interview with Radio VOP, several farmers in Mazowe district said the government has managed to honour its promises as evidenced by the current increased agriculture activities in the province which has seen majority vulnerable households included in the farming business.
“As farmers we can attest that at least there is a notable development progress in this province as can be witnessed by the current ongoing access to farming inputs to almost every one and this is opening up numerous opportunities for the people.
“Intensified agriculture activities are creating jobs for the majority of the people in the province, those who are under Command Agriculture have a high demand for labour, youths and women now have income generating activities,” said Mr Chekai Masawi.
The proliferation of tobacco contracting agents is also another notable development towards embracing the Zimbabwe open for business mantra, “one can safely say that there is a growing number of farmers embarking on tobacco farming which has been made possible by the coming of several tobacco contractors.
“We have more tobacco contractors under the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) some of them are even disbursing United States Dollars for the payment of their workers’ wages and for us the farming community that is good news to testify of,” said a tobacco farmer Mr Cain Chibota.
However, some sections of the farming community including small holder farmers in horticulture business have expressed negativity of government failure to reduce loan interests’ rates which has posed a serious financial barrier for them.
“I am a small holder farmer with the Negomo Irrigation Scheme and currently we are facing serious financial challenges which have resulted in low productivity, as horticulture farmers we are very open to the global market but without ease access to loans our productivity is very low.
“Loan interests rates are too high and discouraging, thus for us the promise to broaden access to financing and inputs is not yet realized,”
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Land Commission is reported to have begun farm inspections and audits a move that many say will unravel several land grafts, “the party promised to deal with land corruption and the move to audit farm lands will be a true fulfilment of the promises to deal with land inequalities that where perpetuated under the political tyranny of the previous regime,” said a disgruntled farmer, Mrs Thenjiwe Kaseke.