Tuesday 19 March 2024


SOME farmers have dug into Agriculture, Water and Fisheries minister Anxious Masuka, accusing his ministry of poor workmanship, corruption and lack of urgency to rectify farmers’ concerns.

Last week, President Emerson Mnangagwa, however, named Masuka as the best performing minister for the year 2023.

Ironically, according to the farmers, his ministry is facing challenges that have not been solved to prop up the agro-based economy.

According to a dossier from Mashonaland Central province dated February 23, 2024 seen by NewsDay, several “pending” challenges have not been addressed since 2000 when land reform kicked off.

The dossier titled Challenges in Agriculture and Infrastructure Sectors — Urgent Attention Required exposes deep-rooted corruption in the sector and lack of corrective measures by the parent ministry.

The dossier was addressed to the Zanu PF political leadership and government officials.

“We write to bring to your attention a series of critical challenges faced by farmers and stakeholders in the agricultural and infrastructure sectors, particularly involving the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa), Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa), Command/PIP/ARDA schemes, banking and finance houses, private sector funding/contracting and grain control, among others,” reads part of the dossier.

GMB is accused of letting down farmers through payment delays.

“Farmers are facing serious payment delays from GMB after produce delivery. It subsequently forces farmers to lose faith in GMB and deliver their produce to even more unscrupulous private dealers. This has been going on for several years. When farmers deliver to GMB depots, offloading is delayed, leading to farmers incurring extra transport charges from the transporters who charge extra due to delays.

“The RTGS, component is reducing the price of the produce due to the variance prevalent in the market. For instance, wheat was paid at RTGS $6 500, whilst the rate outside was at RTGS $13 000 which leads to massive loss to the farmer,” said the farmers.

The farmers described the GMB grading system as “inconsistent” and favouring “Makoronyera (middle men” who get premium grades.

Some wheat farmers are still yet to be paid for their 2023 deliveries.

The disgruntled farmers proposed urgent reforms to reinstate GMB as the sole trader of grains, ensuring efficient handling, storage and distribution.

“This would contribute to price stability and support both farmers and the private sector. Furthermore, payment in US dollars for produce is crucial for accurate accounting, preventing discrepancies and enabling effective strategic planning. If RTGS is here to stay, then farmers should be allowed to withdraw forex against the local currency payments made. Payments should be done timeously,” reads the document.

It went on to accuse Zinwa, which falls under Masuku’s ministry, of being a burden to farmers.

“The current fixed charging structure of 7,5ML (megalitres)/hectare/season for wheat, when practical application is limited to 4,5ML/ha/season, is economically burdensome for farmers. It poses a financial strain, particularly in wheat seasons. The 4,5ML charge for the summer season is deemed excessive, especially given that farmers generally apply a maximum of 15ML/ha during the summer season. This overcharging contributes to the overall economic challenges faced by farmers,” reads the dossier.

There are contractual and operational concerns over water charges that are disproportionately high, considering the service received, the farmers noted.

“This puts an additional financial burden on farmers who are struggling with other operational costs. The contracts with Zinwa lack balance, holding farmers solely responsible for payment without enforcing accountability on Zinwa's part. This places an unfair burden on farmers,” said the farmers.

 Zinwa has also been accused of infrastructure neglect.

“There is dirty water due to illegal mining that poses a severe threat to irrigation infrastructure. This does not only damage equipment, but also contaminates water sources, affecting crop health and yields.

“Zinwa’s neglect of responsibilities, such as clearing dams, maintaining taps, and managing rivers, raises concerns about the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization,” the dossier indicates.

“Zinwa must not give licences to riverbed mining and other mining operations that cause massive environmental degradation and disturbance of flora and fauna.”

The farmers mourned over government’s inputs programmes which are open to abuse and looting.

“There is always late input distribution that has a domino effect on planting schedules, leading to poor yields and impacting the overall agricultural output. Furthermore, poor vetting of farmers results in inputs reaching non-productive farmers, who may not use them for intended purposes, exacerbating inefficiencies in the system,” reads the dossier.

The farmers suggested proper vetting of farmers and that farmers should receive inputs two months before the onset of the season.

The farmers also challenged zesa to reduce tariffs.

“The increases put an additional financial burden on farmers, making it harder for them to sustain their operations and contribute to economic growth.

“Disconnections of productive farmers at critical stages of farming sabotage production, leading to economic losses for both farmers and the nation. Removal of payment terms by farmers is equally unproductive bearing in mind that farmers are producing for the nation and can only be paid after harvest,” the farmers added. Newsday 


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