Irrigation farmers only to benefit from Command Agric in Masvingo

MASVINGO – The just established $500 million Command Agriculture Scheme run by the Government to grow maize for food security is going to benefit farmers who are under irrigation only in Masvingo Province, the Provincial Agronomist Sabina Chaduka has said.

Speaking in an interview with The Mirror, Chaduka said although Masvingo has been given a target to produce 20 000 tonnes per year under the scheme, it is irrigation farmers who will benefit because the province is arid.

She said the risk of loss is bigger in Masvingo if every farmer gets inputs because of the low and erratic rainfall patterns in the region. Farmers who are not under irrigation are therefore not being considered for the scheme.

However, in other provinces all farmers are being considered because of more reliable rainfall patterns. Masvingo is expected to put 4 000 hectares of land under command agriculture and produce 20 000 tonnes as the projected yield is 5 tonnes per hectare. Overally, Government expects to get 2 000 000 tonnes per year under the Command scheme.

“Masvingo has been given a target to put 4000 hectares of land under maize and to harvest an average five tonnes of maize per hectare. Masvingo is mostly arid,” said Chaduka.

Registration for command agriculture has started at Agritex offices throughout the province and inputs will be delivered in due course.

“Farmers will get seed maize, fertiliser, chemicals, lime, ploughing land preparation costs, packaging and transport,” added Chaduka.

When asked about how the scheme will be monitored against abuse, she said committees have been set up for that purpose.

“There are provincial and district committees that will be monitoring the scheme and reporting to the national command centre,” she said.

The $500 million command agriculture program was launched in early August by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who chairs the Cabinet Committee on Food Security and Nutrition. Farmers will sign up performance contracts for three farming seasons.

Nationally the program is targeting at producing 2million tonnes of maize which is higher than the 1.5million tonnes required for consumption in the country for the whole year.

VP Mnangagwa said Government was negotiating lines of credit with various financial institutions to fund the purchase of equipment, chemicals and seed for the programme.
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