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» » 1,8m households to benefit free agric inputs


​BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
Peri-urban farmers who carry out smale-scale farming activities on the outskirts of most cities and towns are set to benefit from the free agricultural inputs to be doled out under the Presidential Well-wishers Inputs Scheme.
This was revealed by the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation Development and Mechanisation, Dr Joseph Made during a Zanu provincial voter mobilisation meeting held at Chinhoyi University of Technology recently. Participants included parliamentarians, councillors and GMB depot managers.
The timing of the programme, though, raises a stink as this could be viewed as vote-buying by Zanu PF ahead of crucial harmonised elections next year.
Made, who was presenting a report on the government's preparedness on the 2017/18 agriculture season said the Presidential inputs scheme was targeting to support at least 1,8 million households across the country and this included urban dwellers who are involved in peri-urban agriculture.
"The President's scheme of supporting food security at household level has been doubled as we intend to support 1,8 million household with agriculture inputs as we want to ensure the country has food security at household level," he said
Made said the government had already started distributing the inputs to Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots for distribution. He said his ministry had tasked the parastatal to take a leading role in distributing the freebies which were a subject of perennial plunder by top politicians and government officials.
"We have already started distributing the inputs such as fertilizers to some GMBs and I have instructed them to distribute the inputs to those who registered for them. GMB will take control of the programme and I request our party leadership to support our employees and not to interfere with their work."
Made said agriculture extension officers' roles would be limited to monitoring that inputs have been put to use for the intended purposes.
"Registration for the inputs by those who want to benefit will be done by GMB at their depots and other points that will be convenient to people and Arex officers duties will be to see that beneficiaries have used the inputs on its purpose and see there is no abuse."
Meanwhile, Made said GMB will expeditiously pay for grain deliveries, setting a timeline that disbursement should be effected within 72hours after delivery. He reiterated the maize producer price remained at $390 per tonne.
Made said GMB will establish satellite grain collection points to ease pressure on farmers in transporting grain to the nearest depots.
Made also said 400 00 households will be supported with inputs for 'white gold' through the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) on a first-come first-served basis.POLITICS

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