FINANCIER of the command agriculture programme Sakunda Holdings says government should crack the whip on farmers who abuse inputs and default on repayments.
While the program is credited with ensuring the country became self sufficient in maize production it has been marred by accusations of abuse by farmers and the politically connected. The programme is funded to the tune of $500m.
Sakunda chief operating officer Mberikwazvo Chitambo, said while a significant proportion of farmers under the command program honored their contracts they was need to ensure undeserving recipients are removed and reduce pressure on the fiscus.
He said during follow up visits to beneficiaries of the command programme some farmers would have sold their inputs.
“We are now in the third year of supporting this programme and we are asking government to give support to deserving beneficiaries and those who are abusing should be brought to book regardless of their standing in the community and connections, we are now working on mechanizing our agriculture and providing equipment like centre pivots made locally and we are saying to government these should be allocated to deserving beneficiaries,” said Chitambo while speaking at the Zimbabwe Wheat Board Conference..
He said Sakunda remained committed to support the programme but the unavailability of foreign currency continued to hamstring their efforts.
Principal Director Crop and livestock development Joseph Gondo who also spoke at the conference said government was aware of the defaulting farmers and authorities will take action to recover what is owed.
“Government has a list of the credible farmers and those who are failing will be chucked out, ultimately the list will be given to banks to support farmers so it is important for farmers to honor their contracts”.
In the Transitional Stability Programme (TSP) government intends to gradually reduce its involvement and allow greater private sector support for agriculture programmes.
Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said beyond 2020 government will focus on supporting vulnerable households, while private sector and commercial bank will be required to fully take up its rightful role of adequately funding agriculture particularly A2 farmers.