Government has secured more than 10 000 metric tonnes of Compound D fertiliser as it seeks to plug gaps in the supply of inputs and overall implementation of the Command Agriculture scheme. There were some districts and provinces that reported shortages of basal fertiliser and fuel which were slowing down the progress of the programme. The development comes at a time when the Office of the President and Cabinet has begun monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the Command Agriculture programme, which is expected to ensure that the country is food secure.
As part of the monitoring programme, which is assessing progress in land preparation and planting, Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Mr Justin Mupamhanga toured Kent Estates in Norton, Pendennis Farm in Hurungwe and another one in Chegutu dis- trict. "We are happy with what we saw as land preparations are progressing well although we noted some gaps in terms of inputs distribution," said Mr Mupamhanga. "Some work needs to be done in that regard and we are happy to report that we have secured about 10 500 tonnes of basal Compound D fertilisers from our supplier, which is expected to ameliorate the situation."
On fuel shortages, he said the unavailability was more out of communication breakdown between the lower level offices and the command centre as the supplier had enough stock. He said communication channels had to be smoothened to ensure success of the programme as some farmers were not being informed of availability of inputs on time. There are about 200 000 hectares of irrigated land put under maize in the Command Agriculture programme with most of it at various stages. More farmers are coming through to get contracts for rain-fed agriculture to ensure that the 400 000ha target is met.
"We see institutions playing a key role in the success of Command Agriculture if they are capacitated to improve their overall hectarage and output," he said. There are about 4 800 hectares being managed by institutions including the Zimbabwe National Army, Zimbabwe Republic Police, ZPCS and colleges, among others. Chegutu district reported a shortage of Compound D fertiliser and fuel, which were immediately solved. The monitoring and evaluation programme started in Mashonaland West province and is expected to progressively spread to other provinces.
Government initiated the Command Agriculture scheme to boost food security in a programme that is expected to run for three years. The $500 million programme also seeks to shed the import bill, which was chewing a significant chunk of the National Budget. It targets about 20 000 farmers across the country who will produce at least five tonnes per hectare after being given inputs which have to be repaid from the produce with the excess being profit to the farmer. The country needs about 2,4 million tonnes of maize for human and livestock consumption.
Source: All Africa