Nqobile Tshili/Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, NChronicle Reporters
Government has launched the national tillage programme to support more than 500 000 small holder farmers countrywide.
This brings relief to farmers especially in drought ravaged areas whose livestock is too weak to be used as draught power.
The District Development Fund (DDF) is spearheading the programme after it was allocated $2 million for the national exercise which is running up to January.
The programme is expected to cover about 250 000 hectares countrywide.
Speaking at the Matabeleland North provincial launch in Redwood, Umguza, the Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Richard Moyo said the small holder farmers tillage support programme is set to benefit 15 560 households in the province.
“We are very happy about the tillage programme that we are launching today in Matabeleland North. It’s a programme that is coming from His Excellency, the President who listens and understands issues affecting his people. We are in a drought situation and most of our small holder farmers do not have draught power to prepare the land for planting because the animals are too weak,” said Cde Moyo.
He said the programme was targeting vulnerable farmers who do not have resources to prepare the land for planting.
Cde Moyo implored communities to cooperate with those involved in the programme so that they benefit.
“There is no excuse for not planting this season. I will also engage Honourable Chasi (the Minister of Energy and Power Development) so that fuel stations prioritise DDF in the allocation of fuel. We don’t want to have a situation where tractors are idle due to fuel shortages. Today we are launching the programme and from tomorrow going forward we expect tractors to be on the fields. The target is to plough 7 830 hectares in 45 days,” said Cde Moyo.
He said community leaders and civil servants should work together in identifying beneficiaries so that all deserving families benefit.
Cde Moyo said each beneficiary will have half a hectare tilled.
In Matabeleland South, Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Abednego Ncube launched the small holder tillage support programme together with the Presidential Input Scheme in Guyu, Gwanda yesterday.
Cde Ncube warned those involved in the programme against abusing resources meant to benefit communities.
“The two schemes are meant to help communities recover from the effects of drought. It’s important that the inputs are used properly in order to achieve the desired outcome. It’s against Government policy to sell inputs and those caught doing that will be arrested,” said Cde Ncube.
He said the early distribution of inputs showed Government’s commitment to support farmers.
“We are grateful to His Excellency President ED Mnangagwa for rolling out such a programme that will indeed benefit our seven districts and help us attain our national vision,” said Minister Ncube.
He said the 2019/20 Presidential Input Scheme is targeting 154 210 smallholder farmers in the province.
The input package is made up of a 10kg bag of maize seed, 5kg sorghum/pearl millet seed, 50kg basal fertiliser, 50kg top dressing fertiliser and chemicals to control fall army worm.
DDF, Agritex and the Department of Mechanisation are supervising both programmes.—@nqotshili/@DubeMatutu