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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 30 NOVEMBER 2017 44-23 1
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday, 30th November, 2017
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER
BODY OF THE LATE DR. MUSIIWA
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I wish to inform the House
that the body of the late Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr. A Musiiwa will be arriving tomorrow Friday, 1st December, 2017 at 5
p.m. From the Airport, the body will be taken to Nyaradzo Funeral Parlour. A church service will be held on Saturday, 2nd December at Nyaradzo at 1100 hours. Thereafter, the body will be taken to C. C. Molina Farm, about 35km out of Kadoma. Burial will take place on
Hon. Tshinga and Hon. Nduna having passed between the Speaker and the Member on the floor.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Tshinga. Order
Hon. Nduna. Can you please go back?
HON. NDUNA: Ndandichiuya kuzokumhorosai.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Mliswa – [HON.
ZINDI: Ngaambobuda.] –
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. RUNGANI: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 23, be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 24 has been disposed
HON. MUKWANGWARIWA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
SECOND REPORT OF PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON LANDS,
AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION
DEVELOPMENT ON AGRICULTURAL COLLEGES AND
HON. CHITINDI: I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development on
Agricultural Colleges and Command Agriculture.
HON. MUSVAIRE: I second.
HON. CHITINDI: 1.0 Introduction
Agricultural education and training plays an important role in providing the much-needed human resources in the agricultural sector. Education is often the most valuable asset for rural people wishing to engage in jobs in the agricultural value chain where they need both technical knowledge and business skills. Innovation, often regarded as a pre-condition for successful entrepreneurship, is positively related to the level of education in most developed countries. Against this background, the Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Mechanisation and
Irrigation Development resolved to inquire into the functional status of Agricultural Colleges in Zimbabwe. In addition, the Committee took advantage of the visit to agricultural colleges to conduct an assessment of the Command Agriculture throughout the provinces. The Committee was prompted to conduct an enquiry into Command Agriculture against a backdrop of a substantial budgetary allocation, the high rainfall experienced in the 2016/2017 summer-cropping season as well as negative media reports regarding the management of the programme.
2.0 Objectives of the Inquiry
2.1 The Committee was guided by the following objectives
- To assess the state of agricultural colleges
- To identify the policy gaps in the implementation of Command
- To assess the crop under Command Agriculture; and
- Appreciate the challenges faced by farmers under Command
The Committee invited Mr. J. Chitsiko, the Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development for an oral evidence session on the 7th of February 2017. In addition, the Committee conducted a fact finding mission to agricultural colleges and selected beneficiaries of the Command Agriculture from the 13th – 19th of March
4.0 Committee Findings
4.1 Agricultural Colleges: Ministry of Agriculture,
Mechanisation and Irrigation Development
4.1.1 The Permanent Secretary highlighted that agricultural education in Zimbabwe began in the early 1950s when the first Agricultural College, Gwebi College was established 27km North West of the capital, then Salisbury. Thereafter in 1961, another agricultural college, (Chibero College) was established 25 km South-East of Norton, a town located 41 km from the capital.
4.1.2 The purpose of these colleges was to provide trained human resources for the agricultural sector. Most of the graduates from these colleges went to become farm managers on the commercial farms while others joined the extension services and agro-industry, i.e. companies that produce chemicals, fertilizers and farming equipment.
4.1.3 Soon after the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980, the number of agricultural colleges increased, with four more colleges being added to the original two. Thus came into existence Esigodini, Mlezu and Kushinga Phikelela Agricultural Colleges. A few years later, Mazowe Veterinary College was established and was mandated to train students in veterinary skills at both certificate and diploma levels. Recently in 2011, another college Shamva Agricultural College came into existence in one of the northern provinces, i.e. Mashonaland Central. This brought the total number of colleges under Ministry of Agriculture to eight.
4.1.4 In 2005, the Department of Agricultural Education and Farmer Training was established under a Director to oversee the operations of the agricultural colleges and this is the current situation. Note that the name of the department indicates the added role of the agricultural colleges to train farmers through short courses, particularly during shutdown periods. The main function of the Department of Agricultural Education and Farmer Training still remains the same, i.e. to provide training for the agricultural sector, the main clientele being students and farmers. Eight colleges are operating under the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development have a combined enrolment of 1971 students as at 30 January 2017.
4.2 Student Training at Diploma Level
4.2.1 Currently, 1791 students are enrolled under the conventional diploma training programme. The course is a residential course, i.e. it is run while the students are at the college. In looking after the students, colleges have to provide basic necessities such as food, accommodation, and transport for educational visits, stationery and other facilities. In addition, the hostels have to be cleaned thus demanding further costs in cleaning materials such as soaps and detergents. The majority of the colleges have associate linkages with local universities. This assists in monitoring of academic standards and creates development of career paths.
4.2.2 Upgrading of National Certificate cadres to Diploma Level through modular training, between 2005 and 2011, the Department working with Ministry of Youth Training Centres, produced over 10 000 graduates at certificate level who were targeted for service in the newly resettled areas (A1 and A2). After the conclusion of this programme, it was noted that generally the certificate graduates were deficient in certain skills and knowledge which affected their service delivery. It was therefore decided to further train these certificate cadres to diploma level in order to address the shortcomings.
4.2.3 The Permanent Secretary highlighted that the method of upgrading is through training modules which were produced mainly by college lecturers. The cadres visit their respective colleges of enrolment during the normal shutdown periods during which time they attend lectures, tutorials and practical sessions. Currently, there are about 330 students who are enrolled in the colleges under this upgrading programme at the following colleges: Chibero, Esigodini, Gwebi, Mlezu and Rio Tinto.
4.2.4 The Permanent Secretary emphasised that these students also to be catered for while on college during the normal shutdown periods. Young Commercial Farmer Training is at Kushinga Phikelela National Farmer Training College. This programme is run at Kushinga Phikelela National Farmer Training College. It is designed to train students who leave the college with hands on skills in agriculture. The support to practical training in this programme is therefore critical. There are 180 students in this programme.
4.3 Farmer Training
4.3.1 All colleges are expected as part of their mandate to carry out farmer training according to needs assessment with respect to the farmers. The training courses are run on short-term basis, i.e. a day to a week or more depending on the situation. Kushinga Phikelela (which is located outside Marondera) is the National Farmer Training Centre and plays a coordinating role in farmer training. In this first quarter of 2017, the agricultural colleges are aiming to train at least 500 farmers in various agricultural activities which include agronomy of crops; poultry and pig production; beef cattle management; bee keeping and honey production; mushroom production; tractor operation and maintenance; farm machinery; farm records and budgeting; horticulture and management of the environment.
4.3.2 In view of budgetary constraints, there is need to cooperate with other farmer training organisations in the agricultural sector such as Farmers Unions, Seed Companies, NGOs and private institutions who may have funding for the development of farmers.
4.4 Major challenges facing agricultural colleges
- Inadequate budgets; for 2017, the total annual budget for all the eight colleges is US$703 000. This translates to less than US$
100 000 per college or less than US$ 10 000 per month per college. This is too low and has a negative impact on operating capacity and quality of delivery of services.
- The current financial management system is centralised and takes too long to react to the requirements of an agricultural institution.
- Inadequate training materials such as computers, text books, periodicals, office equipment, photocopiers and projectors.
- Inadequate farm equipment for student training and farm production. This includes tractors, tillage implements and other related equipment. The current equipment is old and unserviceable; there is need for replacement in order to achieve the desired quality of delivery of training.
- Staff development; many members of staff would wish to upgrade themselves but are constrained by inadequate financial resources.
4.4 Tour of Agricultural Colleges
3.4.1 Agricultural education allows students to learn and experience the importance of agriculture in the economy. In Zimbabwe, this is critical given that the economy is agro-based and following the land-reform programme of 2000, most of the arable land is in the hands of indigenous people. Graduands and agricultural colleges have a responsibility to provide knowledge and information to farmers in order to boost productivity of the sector. These colleges have the mandate to train students in various agricultural activities which include; agronomy of crops, poultry and pig production, beef cattle management, farm machinery, farm records and budgeting among other topics. However the colleges are facing a number of challenges which are detailed below:
4.5 Funding for Colleges
4.5.1 Since 2015, the financial system has been centralised and colleges no longer retain fees paid by students. The new system entails applying and collecting the money at head office in Harare. The Committee was told that the process was cumbersome and affected productivity at the college. For instance, the colleges highlighted that whenever there was a crisis like an animal disease outbreak, they had to wait for a minimum of three weeks before they received the money to contain the problem. For colleges such as Esigodini, its accountant has to travel more than 800 kilometres to and from Harare to get the financial resources. The Committee was also informed that it was difficult for the lecturers to conduct assessment visits of students due to lack of vehicles. Furthermore, students were not benefitting from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (ZIMDEF) despite the fact that agricultural companies such as seed and stock feed manufacturers contribute to this fund. As a result, students were struggling to make ends meet whilst on attachment, because some of them were not getting any stipends from the employers.
4.6 Calibre of Students
4.6.1 The colleges admitted to the Committee that they were producing half-baked students. This was due to lack of adequate teaching and learning materials. The Committee was told that most students were exposed to the latest technologies and modern farming machinery or equipment during attachment or when they got employed. The colleges had outdated and obsolete equipment. Furthermore, after completion of studies, students fail to access land to enable them to utilise their skills and to be productive.
4.7 Land Use and Management at the Colleges
4.7.1 Most of the colleges save for Rinto Tinto has vast tracks of land ranging over a thousand hectares. However, most of the land is lying idle due to lack of investment. Effort has been made to secure public-private partnerships, triple ‘Ps’ at Kushinga Phikelela and Gwebi for crop production such as tobacco and maize. These partnership arrangements were hailed by the colleges for enabling students to get exposed to modern technologies and practices in farming. At Gwebi, concern was raised that the partnership arrangement had shortfalls in that the Chinese were not willing to disclose the profits made in the arrangement. As a result, the college was at the mercy of the other partner.
The failure to effectively utilise the land has led to Gwebi losing 200 hectares which was acquired by the Ministry of Lands and Rural
Settlement and allocated to others. In the same vein, Rio Tinto also lost 1 000 hectares of land under Sherwood block which it had been allocated in 2004. The land was acquired by the Ministry of Lands and given to other beneficiaries, hence the college does not have adequate land for learning and practising for the benefit of its students. Currently, the college has 100 hectares which is occupied by college buildings and other infrastructure. The Committee learnt that all the agricultural colleges do not have an advisory boards, an organ which is critical in mapping out policies for the college, such as sourcing of investment partners.
4.7.2 The colleges highlighted that they cannot pay farm labourers the rates that are stipulated by the Civil Service Commission. The rates are too high and they need to be reviewed in line with General
Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ) and the National Employment Council for the agricultural industry. The Committee was also told that Esigodini College is without a substantive Principal since 2014. This makes it difficult for the Acting Principal to make substantive decisions on the operations of the college.
4.8 Command Agriculture and Food Security
4.8.1 The recipients of the Command programme told the Committee that it was a noble programme in view of limited financial support given to farmers by financial institutions. Hence, Command Agriculture was viewed as a positive development that would enable farmers to be productive, promote food security at household level and for the nation at large in line with Cluster 1of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.
4.8.2 The Command Agriculture is a three year programme that supports farmers in different parts of the country. According to Dr Chitsiko, the targeted hectarage for maize production is 400 000 hectares. The programme focuses on three groups of people namely; farmers with irrigation facilities and adequate farming equipment, farmers that were not fully equipped with irrigation and farming machinery, and farmers that rely on rain-fed agriculture and have minimal resources for farming. The recipients would receive the following; seed, fuel coupons, fertilizers, chemicals and tillage services and these would be collected at the recipients’ nearest Grain Marketing Board depots (GMB).
4.8.3 The programme is managed through a contract system between the farmer and the Government. The loan is serviced partly in kind where the farmer surrenders an agreed portion of his or her grain to GMB. The Permanent Secretary highlighted that abuse of the inputs was a criminal offence. The offences and penalties are highlighted in a
Statutory Instrument (SI) of 2017 known as the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime (Declaration of a Serious Offence: Misappropriation of Agricultural Inputs) Regulation. The SI highlights that any misappropriation of agricultural inputs issued under Command agriculture will lead to a fine of level 14 or imprisonment not exceeding five years or both fine and imprisonment. The offender can also lose his or her piece of land if it was gotten through the land reform programme.
Misappropriation is identified as the intentional trading, donating or barter trade of the inputs without the written approval by a Government agency. The Committee was informed that there are some offenders that have since been imprisoned for diverting the inputs to the black market.
The major issues that arose during the Committee’s enquiry include:
4.9 Co-ordination Committee
4.9.1 The Committee was informed that the Command programme has Co-ordinating committees at national, provincial and at district level.
It includes persons from the Ministry of Agriculture, especially the
Agricultural Extension (Agritex) officers and Ministry of Defence. Officials from the Ministry of Defence are the team leaders especially in co-ordinating the distribution of inputs. Agritex officers assist in monitoring and advising farmers.
4.10 Distribution of Inputs
4.10.1 In all the provinces that were visited by the Committee, the recipients had the following complaints: They did not get the inputs on time. In one case, at Chibero College, they received their Ammonium Nitrate (AN) fertiliser on the 9th of March 2017 and this was of no use because the crop had been badly affected by lack of nutrients in the soil.
The college highlighted that they would store the fertilisers for use in the next season.
4.10.2 Some of the farmers did not get an entire package and had to use their own resources to buy the rest of the inputs. A case in point, is a farmer in Norton, Mr Chikonzo who had to buy chicken manure as a substitute for compound D and the Committee was impressed by his crop and the initiative he made. However, another farmer Mr Maponga of Kwekwe district, did not get the same joy when he tried to be innovative by making a concoction to contain the fall armyworm. The homemade concoction that comprised of surf and other chemicals managed to contain the pest but destroyed the crop.
4.10.3 Farmers expressed concern that they were not collecting their inputs at the nearest GMB depots. For instance, farmers in Norton collected their inputs in Chegutu, that is on average 100 kilometres away, Farmers in Umzingwane collected at two distribution points for different inputs at either Filabusi or Gwanda depots that is on average between 50 to 100 kilometres away from the district. The commercial farm in Masvingo collected its inputs from Harare because that seemed to be the most convenient location. The farmers complained of time losses and cost implications on production and this was also exacerbated by the poor road infrastructure especially in rural areas.
4.10.4 The Committee was informed by the farmers that the documentation process at the collection points took a greater part of the farmers’ time, hence reducing productivity at the farms. This was attributed to the lack of computers for speedy processing. Farmers complained that some of the Government officials, especially from the Ministry of Agriculture were arrogant and unhelpful. A case in point is a widow in Umzingwane district, Mrs Ncube, who complained of illtreatment by officials who were coordinating the Command programme.
She attributed this to gender discrimination.
4.10.5 The Committee was told by some farmers that they faced challenges in getting farming equipment for tillage and for pumping water. Farmers in Insiza who had planted early maize crop over 35 hectares lost the entire crop because the Mechanisation Department took more than six weeks to respond to their request for assistance. A farmer in Umzingwane had to plant manually because she failed to get a planter from the department of mechanisation. Farmers told the Committee that packaging of the inputs in some cases was not suitable for small hectarage. For instance, Mr. Maponga wanted 25kg for his hectarage but was forced to get 30 kg and furthermore, he could not acquire Carbaryl for the fall armyworm because the quantities were not suitable for smallholder farmers. Seed varieties were being distributed without regard of the ecological region. Most farmers under Command Agriculture received varieties that take the longest to mature. This presented a challenge especially for farmers who depend on rain fed agriculture.
4.11 Information Dissemination
4.11.1 Most of the farmers who interacted with the Committee learnt of Command Agriculture through secondary sources such as neighbours and not from the official channels. This is due to the fact that most smallholder farmers do not belong to farming associations and
Agritex officers are not mobile due to lack of vehicles.
4.12 Perceptions on Command Agriculture
4.12.1 The Committee encountered both negative and positive perceptions about Command agriculture. In Kwekwe District, in one ward, only three farmers were courageous to participate in the programme. The rest of the farmers shied away because of fear of the word ‘Command’. The perception was that this is a military programme and if one does not live up to the expectations, the consequences will be meted out in military style. In Norton, the farmers expressed displeasure that some people who did not have land or had small hectarage received inputs which they went to sell on the black market. Furthermore, while waiting to collect their inputs at Chegutu depot, various trucks received first preference and the army were at the forefront in initiating the speedy collection of these inputs. One farmer in Norton refused to collect his inputs after being told he would only get seed and was not given assurance of when he would receive the rest of the inputs. His fear was that he would experience total disaster given that he did not have resources to acquire other inputs such as fertilisers and chemicals.
4.13 Crop Yields
4.13.1 Most of the farmers told the Committee that they were expecting yields of between 5 tonnes to 10 tonnes per hectare. The variations were attributed to pests, lack of adequate inputs and excessive rainfall which caused leaching. Irrespective of these challenges, the farmers were content that they were going to harvest something to feed their families and the nation at large, especially given that the previous season was a difficult one due to the El Nino induced drought.
5.0 Committee Observations
5.1 AGRICULTURAL COLLEGES
- Funding of Colleges - Centralising funds is constraining the ability of colleges to make decisions that directly affect their operations.
- Calibre of Students -the Ministry of Agriculture should ensure that its colleges receive agricultural machinery that it sources for some of its programmes. There were so many missed opportunities such as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Mechanisation programme and the More Food for Africa programme. It is not proper that students are behind in terms of technology and modern farming equipment. This will constrain the graduands to advise farmers on the best
type of machinery and farming methods. The curriculum at these colleges need to be reviewed so that it is in line with modern trends.
- Land Use and Management of Colleges - the Ministry of Agriculture needs to come up with a policy to enable the colleges to enter into partnership agreements. This will enable the colleges to be productive and for students to be exposed to best farming practices and machinery. The Committee noted with concern that most of the colleges were not engaging in meaningful production and had to scale down their operations, in livestock and crop production due to limited funding from the fiscus. Hence, land and infrastructure such as cattle pens, fowl runs were either empty or underutilised. The colleges have niche markets for their produce particularly from the surrounding communities.
- The Ministry of Lands has unprocedurally acquired land that belongs to the colleges and allocated it to beneficiaries of the land reform programme for example Gwebi Agricultural Colleges.
- Agricultural college students are not benefiting from ZIMDEF yet agricultural companies are contributing to this fund.
- The colleges cannot afford to pay farm labourers the rates that are stipulated by the Civil Service Commission. A policy shift is required so that the colleges are able to utilise their land effectively.
5.2 Command Agriculture
- It has brought hope to many farmers, given the tight liquidity crunch that is affecting the country. The farmers showed determination and a desire to participate in improving food security at both household and national level. However, the programme was too ambitious as it sought to accommodate as many farmers as possible without aggregating it with the financial resources and capacity of personnel to manage the programme. Furthermore, the programme will be implemented in three seasons that is too short to have made an impact in terms of boosting food security and productivity on farms. Government through its different agencies was slow in signing supply contracts with the various manufacturers in the country. The summer-crop is seasonal hence distribution of inputs should be time-based if the sector is to achieve high returns.
- Co-ordination Committees - there is lack of coordination between Committees at Head Office and those at district level.
- Distribution of Inputs - a lot of work needs to be done to improve on the distribution of inputs. Farmers travel long distances to get inputs and yet there are GMB depots or other community centres that are used for distribution of things like the Presidential Input Scheme and food assistance.
- Information Dissemination - there is inadequate information that has been disseminated to farmers on Command agriculture. Government departments are not giving timely information to farmers on the programme. This is also attributed to the fact that Agritex officers are immobile due to lack of vehicles to meet farmers on a regular basis.
- Perceptions on Command Agriculture - negative perceptions about this programme need to be addressed in order to recruit deserving
and capable farmers in all the provinces of the country. Farmers may have observed abuse of inputs by others but there was no mechanism or adequate information on whistle blowers.
- Crop Yields for the 2016/2017 - crop yields could have done better if farmers had received all the inputs on time and at the same time. The farmers under Command agriculture, especially for the long season varieties would have harvested at least 10 tonnes per hectare.
- Post Harvesting - given that the country is expecting a bumper harvest, the Ministry of Agriculture has not disseminated adequate information to farmers on the availability of grain bags, transport and payment modalities in order to motivate farmers to continue participating in this programme.
- Climate Change - the Committee is concerned that in light of climate change, budget allocation for irrigation development for this current year was reduced by 10% when compared with the previous year’s allocation. There is no guarantee that the country will have another high rainfall season in the next two seasons
under Command Agriculture and therefore, there is need to rehabilitate existing irrigation schemes and to construct new schemes in areas with high potential in crop production.
- Expansion of Command Agriculture -Command Agriculture should be expanded to include other sectors such as livestock, soya beans, small grains sugarcane and horticulture. The programme needs to be sensitive to the productivity status of the different ecological regions of the country.
- The Contract System - the contract should clearly lay out the cost of inputs and the market price of the maize. Secondly, breach of contract should not be criminalised but civil charges should be exerted in order to recover the lost inputs.
5.1 Command Agriculture
|5.1.1||Timeous distribution of a complete package of inputs||Government to sign the supply contracts with manufactures on time and the Command Coordination Committees to ensure farmers acquire their inputs as a complete package by farmers.||Summer Crop
Inputs should be ready by July and for Wheat end of February each year
|5.1.2||There is need to computerise the||The Co-ordination Committee and the Ministry of Agriculture should||Before September 2017|
|processing and management of input scheme.||be adequately equipped with computers and other information communication technologies
(ICTs), for effective
communication with farmers and easier management and processing of the inputs. This will also ensure less congestion at collection points and save farmers’ time and energy in queuing for the inputs.
|5.1.3||Farmers should access
inputs at the nearest GMB depot or community designated points.
|The Command Co-ordination Committee should ensure that inputs are accessible to farmers in a cost beneficial manner.||Suitable and accessible Distribution Points to be identified before
|5.1.4||Investment for irrigation and mechanisation is needed in light of the impacts of climate change and variation||Government through the Ministry of Agriculture should source more equipment and machinery for the development of irrigation and to assist small holder farmers that rely on rain-fed agriculture.||On-going.|
|5.1.5||Command agriculture needs to be diversified.||The Ministry of Agriculture should develop a policy to expand Command agriculture to include livestock and other crops based on the ecological regions of the country.||Policy Position should be in place before September 2017.|
|5.1.6||Packaging of inputs and seed varieties should be designed to meet the different categories and ecological regions of farmers and hectarage under Command.||The Command Coordination Committee to make logistical arrangements to ensure that packaging of inputs and seed varieties meet the needs of the farmers.||Corrective action to be taken before July 2017.|
|5.1.7||Post harvesting program to be announced to enable farmers to
effectively deliver the maize to GMB
|The Ministry of Agriculture should announce policy position on collection of maize from farmers under Command in terms of:
availability of grain bags, combine harvesters, storage facilities, grain dryers’ collection points and payment for modalities for maize deliveries.
|Position should be announced by end of April each year.|
|5.1.8||Women farmers should be respected and||The Co-ordination Committee and Ministry of Agriculture should be||Before September 2017.|
participate in Command
|gender sensitive in the implementation of Command Agriculture. An assessment should be made on the number of women that benefitted from this programme, given that women account for 80% of labour in agriculture.|
|5.1.9||There should be a cutoff period for the distribution of inputs.||The Co-ordination Committee and the Ministry of Agriculture should distribute inputs in line with the agricultural season. Inputs should not be distributed way after the recommended periods of farming.||The Policy position to be developed before August 2017.|
|5.1.10||The Input Scheme for winter wheat should be clearly laid out before the Season commences.||The Ministry of Agriculture need to announce the preparations that have been made for the winter wheat season before its commencement.||Before end of February each year.|
|5.1.11||Command Agriculture should receive adequate budgetary support from Government.||Parliament should ensure that the Command program receives adequate budgetary support from the fiscus in order to promote food security, reduce the import bill, create employment and reduce poverty.||On-going.|
|5.1.12||Agritex officers need to be mobile in order to monitor and evaluate programmes of this nature.||Parliament needs to ensure that adequate resources from the National budget are channelled for the purchase of vehicles and for travel and subsistence to enable Agritex officers to do their work effectively.||On-going|
|5.1.13||The lifespan of
Command Agriculture should be reviewed to a longer period
|The Ministry of Agriculture needs to consider extending the lifespan of the programme to 10 years, in light of huge investment required for irrigation and acquisition of farming machinery and equipment, which have longer repayment periods. Furthermore, the first year had teething problems, some of which need long term solutions||The policy position should be announced before December 2017.|
|5.1.14||Government officials should improve their communication skills as||Some officers in the Ministry of Agriculture need to undergo communication skills programmes||On-going.|
|they relate with farmers.||to enable the Ministry to timeously and effectively respond to the needs of farmers.|
5.2 Agricultural Colleges
|5.2.1||Agricultural Colleges should retain 100% of tuition fees.||The Ministry of Agriculture should decentralise the funding mechanism for colleges.||Before end of 2017|
|5.2.2||Agricultural Colleges should benefit from Government sponsored programmes on
|The Ministry of Agriculture should
prioritise agricultural colleges, whenever mechanisation programmes, like the RBZ one are being implemented.
|5.2.3||Students in agricultural colleges should benefit from ZIMDEF.||The Ministry of Agriculture should liaise with the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education on policy reform that will enable agricultural colleges to benefit from Zimdef.||Before end of 2017|
|5.2.4||A substantive Head should be appointed for
|The Ministry of Agriculture to liaise with the Ministry of Public Service to speed up the process of appointing the Principal for Esigodini College.||Before end of 2017|
|5.2.5||Land taken from agricultural colleges should be returned.||The Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement should return the land it expropriated from agricultural colleges.||Before end of 2017|
|5.2.6||Agricultural College students should be given preference in land allocations.||Ministry of Lands and Rural
Resettlement should reserve a quota for land allocations to grandaunts from agricultural colleges.
|5.2.7||Advisory boards should be appointed for all the colleges.||The Ministry of Agriculture should ensure that Advisory boards are appointed for all the colleges in order to spearhead policy and developmental programmes for the Colleges such as triple ‘P’s.||Appointment before end of
|5.2.8||Rates for farm labourers’ wages should be based
on the rates agreed between Government and the NEC for the
|A policy shift is needed by the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that farm labour rates are in line with prevailing rates of the industry, to enable the colleges to contract affordable labour||Review to be made by end of
The Government should be commended for introducing the Special Maize programme as it will go a long way in addressing the issue of food security in the country. It will reduce poverty and create sustainable livelihoods for the majority of the people in the rural areas. On agricultural education, investment is needed to enable these colleges to be viable and to churn out students with requisite skills and knowledge to impart to the farming community. I thank you. HON. MLISWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to
commend the Chairman of the Portfolio Committee for this report. It is a very important report in that agriculture does play a key role in terms of the GDP of the country and Zimbabwe has always been known to be the bread-basket of Africa, so such a report certainly helps us put everything in its proper place.
Let me hasten to say Mr. Speaker Sir, Command agriculture was certainly a great programme. It remains a noble idea pertaining to food security. The purpose of Command agriculture was to reduce on the importation of grain and as a result to also save on the foreign currency. That certainly was achieved. We also must be able to look at the areas which affected this programme so that it can really be said to be excellent. We always thrive for the best in whatever we do. It was good and very good but we want it to be excellent. In being excellent, the distribution was very poor, the time farmers were given inputs was very poor as a result it certainly affected our production.
What is critical for the agronomists in this country is not to look at what we harvested but rather to look at what is being harvested per hectare. The contract for Command agriculture was very clear that you at least have to get five tonnes per hectare – how many people got five tonnes per hectare? I am one of those people who did not get adequate inputs despite getting a contract and Government is not responding to this – in how they are going to deal with people who did not get adequate inputs and are supposed to be given 10 tonnes. They have been very quiet on this, and I think it is very important that those who failed to – because the inputs came late. They cannot be told that they cannot get inputs yet it was the fault of the Government not to give them inputs. They are now using it as a way of having to choose who should get inputs yet if they were given the inputs on time, they could have achieved that tonnage that is needed.
So, it is important for people to be given a fair chance, to be given inputs on time and so forth. The worrying part is that there are tertiary institutions which are sitting on over 1 000 hectares and these institutions are agricultural institutions, which means the expertise is there but they got nothing at the end of the day yet they have the expertise, water and so forth. Why were they not given enough inputs for the 1 000 hectares? I thought this Command Agriculture Programme was about us getting enough maize but it ended up being politicised at the end of the day. The whole idea was to identify farmers who have irrigation, that in the event that there is not enough rainfall, they can supplement that with irrigation but that was not the case. That not being the case, they then gave everyone, whoever wanted inputs were being given on top of the Presidential Input Scheme that was there.
So, you have got two programmes which are running which farmers must benefit from. You have got Command Agriculture which people from the Presidential Input Scheme are also benefiting from; you have the Presidential Input Scheme which people from Command Agriculture do not benefit. So, as a result, we were not able to get as much and those inputs which were meant for those targeted farmers were not enough.
It is therefore important for Government that when they are embarking on a programme, they are very clear that the programme is not politicised at the end of the day. Any party has a right to give its members inputs. ZANU PF– has a right to even give out bags to their people written ZANU PF munhu wese kuna amai, whatever they want. The MDC too have a right to go and get inputs and also have them written va Tsvangirai chete chete. That is up to them.
However, a Government programme must be respected and must
not be politicised at the end of the day. You saw this happening; it disturbs the entire flow and from an economic point of view some of these issues were not budgeted for and as a result, we were affected by the production.
I want to say these tertiary institutions which the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee spoke about, are underfunded. While they are underfunded how are we sure that the people that are being trained know what they are doing? If you go to a medical school, you must get every support, everything needed for you to be a doctor but we are getting people who are leaving these graduate colleges without proper training because of underfunding. So, how can we sustain our agriculture when these people are not well trained? So basically, we are getting half baked cakes which means nothing at the end of the day; a half baked cake is as –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MARUMAHOKO):
Order, order! I cannot hear what the Hon. Member is debating now. Let us lower our voices when we are discussing.
HON. MLISWA: A half baked cake is as good as not having a cake. So, we are now having all these graduates from all the agricultural colleges going out to support agriculture yet they are underfunded. There is no mechanisation there. When they are coming to our farms or to anybody’s farm, there is a tractor which they do not know how to use. So, how do they manage a farm? The Government had this programme called the Brazilian Equipment. For heaven’s sake, you do not just know how they did not benefit these tertiary institutions yet they are key to that. These institutions could also have assisted the surrounding farmers around those areas and so forth. So, you wonder who really benefited from this equipment when the tertiary institutions have no equipment for the training that they are undergoing under mechanisation and so forth.
So, you have a situation where this has to be corrected at the end of the day. If we are talking about these tertiary institutions and Zimbabwe returning to be the bread basket that we used to be, we need them to be properly funded. There are the triple P’s which they were also supposed to also get involved in but you are talking about people who are academics and do not understand business at all. You have got somebody who has been a principal for 20 years. The only thing they know is to just lecture. When you tell them to go into an agreement of triple P – they do not even know how to do business. So, to me some of these triple P’s do not work because some of these principals do not understand business. As a result, it did not yield the results that were expected and so forth.
Mr. Speaker Sir, it is important that in terms of the Advisory Board, how can you have institutions without an Advisory Board. This is the reason why I am quite grateful for the new dispensation which is there because Government had become dysfunctional. How do you run these institutions without a board? You have got a principal and no one is responsible for oversight. So, whatever they are doing is of their own.
However, you have a Minister who is full time, by then it was Dr. Made.
So you ask what was the Minister doing. What was he superintending? He spent more time at the Gushungo farm instead of him spending time doing his main mandate and so forth. We know that he is an agriculture expert but first, he was supposed to do his job. I am saying this because if he was applying his time to his job, certainly we would have yielded results but he never applied time to his job. All we saw him doing was going to Gushungo farm with foreigners with the former First Lady. We never saw him going to a tertiary institution to see whether there is a board. So, he was really working for the former First Family rather than working for the Government of Zimbabwe. These tendencies must stop moving forward.
I think the coming in Ministers must be able to discharge their duties professionally according to the Constitution and so forth. The Agricultural Committee even recommended for him to go but he was the farm manager for His Excellency then. So how can you be fired by the same boss who you are making money for. So, really it is important that Ministers cease being farm managers and concentrate on managing the agriculture in the country and so forth.
I would also want to reiterate the point of irrigation. It is important that irrigation really takes centre stage because the rainfall pattern that we had last season will not be the same this season. As you can see, it is a bit doubtful and so forth and this is where we now need irrigation. This is where Command Agriculture should target farmers with enough equipment irrigation. What we want at the end of the day is maize, whether it is grown by Mr. Brown who is white, Mr. Jack who is Indian and so on, is not the issue. People want food. So, we must also take advantage of the white farmers who are in this country and get them to grow maize. They have the land, the expertise and so forth. All we want is for them to grow maize for us so that the aspect of food security is actually tackled.
So, it is important Mr. Speaker Sir, that we do not discriminate. We are Zimbabweans. This new dispensation that we have must also ensure that the remaining white farmers must also benefit from
Command Agriculture because whatever they are doing is good for Zimbabwe at the end of the day. These are farmers that achieved 10 tonnes. I am a Member of Parliament. Yes, I have a farm and so forth but I do not have time to manage – that is the truth. They have the time, they are full time. The issue of transfer of skills is important, the land is ours, it is not going anywhere but what we want is to make money and to make sure that there is production in the country and this new dispensation must identify. I do not think that any of these white farmers would want to make a mistake of owning land again, but they want to be part of the new Zimbabwe that is growing and playing their role in the expertise that there is and so forth.
So, it is important that we also embrace people with that knowledge so that Zimbabwe goes back to being the bread basket of Africa. We produce, we make foreign currency and we export more and so forth. Right now, we are importing tomatoes and every other food stuffs yet these are the issues we used to produce for other countries. If you go to Marks and Spencer – when I was in the UK doing my university, you were proud to go into Marks & Spencer stores. You were proud to go into Sainsbury supermarket. I do not know if any MPs are aware of these supermarkets, but they are very good supermarkets in England. You will be able to see Zimbabwean products and you would be proud that here is Zimbabwe producing at the end of the day. We need to go back to that point. I could see that they do not appreciate Sainsbury, Marks & Spencer and so forth. They are used to OK Bazaars and TM.
The issue of investing into climate change is critical in terms of cloud seeding. There is no way that you can move into this world and plan without you being part of what is happening in the world. All these countries that benefit from water are able to invest a lot into climate change. Cloud seeding is critical in that point and I think it is important that Government is able to deal with these issues.
As we speak right now, while we recommended as Parliament and I want to thank the Chairman for talking about this recommendation that inputs were supposed to be given on time. As we speak, inputs have not been given on time. I do not know whether the Chairman of Command
Agriculture has now become the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and no one is chairing that. There is a vacuum and farmers have not been given inputs on time. It is quite disturbing because it is a recommendation from the Committee that inputs must be given on time.
Equally, there is no Minister of Agriculture right now who can take upon these recommendations.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members. I
thought most of us are farmers. It is an interesting debate going on – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – It is only the two of you but the rest are farmers.
HON. MLISWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, this is why Hon. Chamisa’s point emphasized that there cannot be a vacuum. Right now, who are we talking to and who is the Minister of Agriculture? The Minister of Agriculture is not here and yet Parliament is discharging its duties. We are hoping that His Excellency the President, Cde. E. D. Mnangagwa is sorting out that. We cannot continue talking to ourselves without an Executive which is there which is supposed to implement. I had hoped that in appointing Acting Ministers, the most important portfolio right now was the Acting Minister of Agriculture because this is the agriculture season. I am hoping that he hears this so that he must put an
Acting Minister of Agriculture. This is the season Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Wind up, you are left with four
HON. MLISWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. This is the season that we are facing, it is an agriculture season and time is going. Agriculture is seasonal at the end of the day and you cannot reverse anything. A minute lost, you cannot recover and a second lost, you cannot recover, etc. So, it is important that it is taken seriously and by it being taken seriously, there must be an Acting Minister of Agriculture who can tell us the way forward pertaining to this season.
In terms of the inputs being given from a decentralisation point of view, it is critical. Our farmers do not have money and for example, I am in Norton. They were picking up their inputs from Chegutu and yet there is a GMB depot in Norton. Why should farmers go that far? They were spending more time on the road than on the field which is really not something that would benefit any farmer. They lost a lot of money in the process by hiring 30 tonne trucks and being told that we are now coming to get your inputs. When they get there, there are no inputs.
So, if an agriculture programme which is run by Government is not being honest, which other programme would be honest? You are having people going there and being told to come and get these inputs. It is important that people respect the ordinary person. It seems there was a lot of corruption in the process. The high ranking officials were being given inputs and you were told of a 30 tonne truck which is meant for the depot. It will be diverted to go to somebody’s farm because there is a Minister waiting to divert that truck and so forth. These are situations which I think cannot help us in any way. If there is a farmer, let them be treated equally but there must be a system.
Government must not promise what it cannot do. They must plan with what they have in terms of inputs and maximise on that and focus on yield more than anything else. I want to say notwithstanding all that, the programme remains a good programme and the Committee certainly did a lot in getting to the ground seeing exactly what is happening. There are some of the farmers who also lost their crops because...
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Zwizwai, there
was peace before you came in.
HON. MLISWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, I think what is critical for us is to be able to give out what we have. Let us eat what we kill and let us not eat what we do not kill, speculate and excite people. Right now, we have got a whole of maize that we have and I think we have dealt with that but the success of Command Agriculture will show that the money saved from buying maize has gone into another industry. I am told there are fertilizers at the Beira Port waiting to come here and it is already end of November and December people are planting.
We are seeing a situation where inputs are going to get late to the farmers and there is going to be plenty of rainfall. They will not be able to harvest anything. The issue and tendency of giving farming inputs in bits and pieces cannot happen. Let a farmer be given his entire package; the fuel, seed, Compound D and Ammonium Nitrate so that they go and manage. They cannot be coming up and down trying to scrounge for inputs and yet there is a contract. Government must be able to honour the contract that it signs with its people because we do not want a
Government that does not honour a contract with the people.
When people are being forced to pay, the Government is saying no, you have to pay and yet they did not give that person adequate inputs. That is an issue that needs to be addressed seriously because it has affected a lot of farmers from now going back to doing what they were doing...
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, it a very interesting
debate but your time is up.
HON. MLISWA: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker. I want to
thank you for giving me this opportunity and hopefully, the recommendations will be taken on board and inputs will be given on time.
HON. MAKWARIMBA On a point of order Mr. Speaker, may I
ask that his time be extended? Thank you.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Unfortunately, he had already
concluded his debate.
HON. CHIMANIKIRE: When I grew up, we used to hear
hurumende yevarimi vefodya, mabhunu. That used to be very synonymous of the farming culture that was there which was being promoted by the white people. However, 60% of the maize production in the GMB was coming from the rural areas and it is something that we must take note of. So, we should look at our policies and say, what happened to the rural areas and what are we going to do to promote the same level of production. Mr. Speaker, I remember my grandmother used to select seed maize, ground nuts, rapoko and so forth. Let us not lose our cultural approach to the way we used to produce agricultural produce.
I would like to appreciate the report that has been presented by the Committee. However, it is lacking in terms of detail and statistics. How much was invested in Command Agriculture in terms of maize production, sorghum and other various grains that were produced? How much was misappropriated? Is there any audit? I think that is what
Parliament wants to know. If we have had more maize at the GMB, that is nice and fine but they referred to generally the misappropriation of seed received, fertilizers but we need to know whether we have an audit system in this so-called Command Agriculture.
It involves various structures of the State including the army but we need to know. I would like to appreciate the fact that they were able to come up with a report. Mr. Speaker Sir, I will start with the issue of farmer training. There is no way we can have farmers occupying 100 hectares of land and begin to utilise it without training. That is why we see what we refer to as loan-farming, one just till the area around their homestead, the rest of the farm is characterised by the cutting of firewood or burning of grass. I think we need to train farmers so that they appreciate how the ecology can be disturbed if trees are cut or grass is burnt. I think it is very important.
So I appreciate the recommendations coming from the Committee that there should be farmer training. The figure of 500 000 farmers to be trained annually is a very comfortable figure which we need to follow and ensure that we have production from well-informed farmers. The various types of training that they have referred to; being trained to manage machinery at the farm because hiring mechanical engineers from somewhere else will attract exorbitant charges and we need to manage our own machinery. It is the issue of machinery that is also affecting agricultural production. I have visited farmers who are relatives and seen brand new tractors parked in a shed, it has not been used and yet it is the time when it is supposed to be used to cultivate. Somebody will be keeping it there for hire and when somebody comes along to hire it, the charges are too high such that even the owner of the tractor does not know how to cultivate with the tractor.
I think there should be qualifications that are considered to say, ‘do you have a driver.’ I have heard the former Speaker saying, ‘I am an MP and I cannot manage the farm.’ You hire a manager; you do not have to be actually getting out there. It is important that you hire someone who looks after the farm so that there is maximum production.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to appreciate what the previous speaker spoke about, the issue of discrimination. We have had in the past, cultural approach in terms of politics, Presidential inputs. Presidential inputs are Presidential inputs and they are from the National Budget. However, what has been happening in the past is that MDC-T supporters and other opposition supporters have not been getting that. They have not been able to access the fertilizers and yet they live in the rural areas. They have no other means of acquiring that fertilizer or seed, yet some of our MPs sitting here have been promoting the idea of not issuing those inputs to Zimbabweans who belong to the opposition parties and I think that must stop with the new culture that we have in Zimbabwe. That selectiveness should never exist in a civilized country like this one where people have been to school.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the issue of perceptions that there are other people in this country who do not deserve certain things; that must be stopped.
I do not believe that a village head should sit there and say, ‘you are from the MDC and you cannot receive fertilizer or seed. Mr. Speaker, I hope that this message goes across not only to the village heads but also to some MPs who have been promoting that. For example, the MP from my own area in Guruve South…
HON. NDUNA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: What is your point of order?
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I am listening attentively to Hon. Chimanikire talking about MPs who are prohibiting members of the opposition from accessing inputs. I come from a predominantly MDC-‘infested’ area in Chegutu – [Laughter] – and there is no time that I had prohibited anybody from getting Presidential input support. Mr. Speaker Sir, going forward, he should desist from going to the village heads and talk with impunity about how they are prohibiting members of the opposition from accessing inputs. The former President and the current Executive said, ‘this is for everybody,’ and I have taken it upon myself that I am going to give out irrespective of party affiliation, and so have all other MPs, who come from predominantly opposition strongholds or former opposition strongholds. So I am
asking Mr. Speaker that you protect MPs such as these in my mold, from such progressive antagonism that I am getting from Hon. Chimanikire…
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Nduna, you are
now debating. There is no point of order, he is generalising, and he never mentioned any particular constituency or Member of Parliament.
We do not take that seriously.
HON. CHIMANIKIRE: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I will not refer to the point of order because there was no point of order. However, what I said stands. I would also like to appreciate the point of view of this Committee to say Command Agriculture should be extended for 10 years, I do not agree with that. Mr. Speaker, I believe we should have a progressive approach, where we empower and then allow those that have been empowered to carry on with an established system after they have received training. We cannot have a Government of handouts. I think the three-year period that was proposed for Command Agriculture is reasonable. You cannot keep on loaning to agriculture; people have to go to banks. Our banks are not operating viably because they are not being allowed to lend for agricultural purposes. Agribank is an extension of a bank that used to exist prior to independence. It used to give loans to farmers. We have to make sure that our banks become viable by engaging. We need agriculture to progress in terms of training that is going to be given to the farmers.
Mr. Speaker Sir, we have also had problems with extension officers being competitors in the agricultural industry. Instead of imparting their own expertise on farmers, they have this problem where they compete and stand in the same queue with the farmers to try and get inputs. They should actually be engaging their expertise and what they have been trained for is to be agricultural extension officers and not competitors against other farmers.
The issue of irrigation Mr. Speaker, that area needs a lot of development. I agree with the previous Speaker, the Hon. Member from Norton. A lot of dams are lying idle and instead of loaning equipment, I would want to support an idea where there will be more of loans for irrigation equipment so that people are able to utilise the water resource that we have in this country, which is plenty but underutilised. So, Mr. Speaker, I believe that the report is an eye-opener yes, and I would like to appeal to the Committee that in future, if they can put more statistics and data on what is actually happening on the ground, that would assist the debate in this House. However, thank you very much for the report you presented to us. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I want to add my voice to the report by Hon. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Chitindi, seconded by Hon. Mliswa. Mr. Speaker Sir, the first thing that I want to do is to draw parallels to this one and then say, if it can be replicated in the mining sector, that would certainly go a long way in terms of harnessing all our mineral resources, in particular at the point of departure or at the milling point where we station some command so that we can get all our mineral resources from the milling centres. However, Mr. Speaker Sir, going back to the Command agriculture, I would want to also applaud Hon. Chimanikire in terms of embracing all the water bodies, all the water that would have been harvested, aware that in a place such as Chegutu West Constituency – there is more than 7 water bodies, John Binya, Masterpiece, Mupfure River, Mupfure Dam, Surisuri River and Surisuri Dam, just to mention but a few. If all these can be harnessed or utilised for irrigation purpose, we will certainly augment, complement, revitalize, rejuvenate and make sure that this programme of Command agriculture far surpasses the targets that would have been set Mr. Speaker Sir.
The issue of being moribund, antiquated, archaic, rudimental – [Laughter] – is certainly not okay for this day and age. We need to embrace technology in order that we go away from this rain fed agriculture means of producing in the agricultural land. Mr. Speaker Sir, having said that, I want to applaud the command in this agriculture and then go further to say all the agricultural colleges need to be resourced so that the output – those people that are churned out of these agricultural colleges do not only come out expecting to be employee but also to be agricultural experts in the land whose amount we are endowed with ubiquitous amount of – but it is in the wrong hands of those people who have not been schooled in that area.
These graduates, it is my clarion call and fervent hope that they get to be given farms during this time of downsizing from so much hectarage to 400 hectares so that they also become employers not employees. Mr. Speaker Sir as a conclude I want to say the issues that we speak to and about in particular the mineral resources are a finite resource, if we do not engage in command resource, extraction and utilisation in particular in Chegutu where there is more than 40 gold mines in a 20 km radius area. If we do not embrace the issues of command mining in that area, we will have a lot of elicit outflows in terms of our minerals resources.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Member, we are
debating agriculture here not mining, please.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you for your guidance Mr. Speaker Sir. I did not want to be regimented and to be a narrow minded in the manner to the extent of just concentrating on the green side of the brown bird minerals. I wanted also to show how endowed our country is in terms of its natural resources which also speak to...
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, if you have
exhausted your debate, please just take your seat and we allow another member to debate.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you for the guidance Mr. Speaker Sir. As
I conclude, I hope this can be an example to other sectors to copy the same – because certainly this has been a milestone and there has been a good development which other Government and quasi-Government departments in other sectors that speak to other issues except agriculture – like mines, energy and other sectors. They can take a cue from what has occurred in the agricultural sector in order to enhance our economic development so that we use what we have to get what we want and we get what we can and can what we get. I thank you.
*HON. MATANGIRA: Thank you Mr. Speaker for affording me
the opportunity to add my voice to members that have spoken before me. I would want to thank the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture and Irrigation Development and Rural Resettlement. I would want to thank this Parliament because I thought that we would just debate and it ends there, based on our different political affiliations. I am grateful that in 2014 in this National Assembly, we mentioned that because of Zimbabwe’s inadequacy in food production, we needed to have Command agriculture.
Government looked into the issue in 2015 and in 2016 the programme was adopted. I want to thank this august House for being effective, which is for the benefit of the majority Zimbabweans. In truth the Committee on Agriculture went around and observed what was happening on the ARDA farms and what was supposed to be done and the mistakes that were made. With the current dispensation that we now have in Zimbabwe, we should stop categorizing ourselves as members of ZANU PF, NDU or MDC party. We should work together and ensure that our country gets back its correct position as has been said by His Excellency the President. Hunger is not choosy when it comes to political affiliation. I am surprised that today we have looked upon one another on issues that were long since done.
Instead of advising one another on the merits or demerits of some aspects of our behaviour; Zimbabwe experienced starvation in 2000. In 2016 to 2017 season, we have Command agriculture but we looked down upon the programme – whose children are we? Mr. Speaker Sir, I would want to talk about what you also observed in the Committee that we have outside countries, we have organisations like More Food for African Programme from Brazil, they are giving us equipment.
The distribution of this equipment is not transparent, the correct recipients are not getting the equipment so, at the end of the day the equipment ends up in the hands of people who do not work. You end up having to hire the same equipment so that the country can be self sufficient. You are told that if you want to hire the equipment you should pay in US dollars. We then asked who is making such a requirement and we hear that it is the Ministry of Agriculture,
Mechanisation and Irrigation Development. It has three Ministers, a Minister and two Deputy Ministers which is the majority in the last Government. We have a Minister and a Deputy Minister who is responsible for Cropping and the other one is responsible for Livestock. The three Ministers, i.e. the Minister, his two deputies and Permanent- Secretary have the four of them ever had a meeting where they have shared ideas to see what they can do that is best for this country?
Zimbabwe has been experiencing hunger throughout the years before the advent of the Command Agriculture. We have a 60 tonnes and even wheat being declined by GMB because of weevils. If you were to deliver your maize with 12.6% moisture content, they would turn you back because they expect your maize to be at 12.5%. Maybe, this is due to the issue of inadequate silos.
*THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Member,
if you have chosen to speak in Shona please stick to that language. Do not vacillate from one language to the other.
*HON. MATANGIRA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, I will
confine myself to one language. Let me state what I have observed as to why we have starvation in this country. It is because our country does not have an agricultural policy. I am saying this because when you hear that banks have been given $670 million and at the end of year, it is not money that was given for production but loans that were advanced to farmers and were rolled over – is that not permissible? It is the laws that are being rolled over. How can this person be expected to produce something when he has not been given money? We want such malpractice to be investigated.
People have had their monies taken, their houses have been sold and they have lost their properties because the banks have been repossessing their property when in fact, they have not been given any money. We urge this Government to come up with an agricultural policy. The manner in which inputs were being distributed was not right. Last year, it was done well and may I also repeat that ZANU PF and MDC are at each other’s throats over the distribution of Command agriculture. Soldiers should not be distributing inputs and diesel but this should be done by the Ministry. The same Ministry however failed and it is returned to the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and
Irrigation Development. There will not be anything on the ground. This year there is nothing on the ground – the 180 million Presidential seed packs are being properly distributed.
Why am I surprised? I wonder why it is being said that ZANU PF people are distributing. A Member of Parliament is apolitical and does not represent people from his political affiliation. The Bible says, if you are a shepherd and you lose one sheep out of a hundred, you should go and look for the single sheep and find it. In my constituency, ZANU PF members are not the first ones to receive inputs. I first give to members of the opposition so that they can vote for me and my party becomes victorious in future.
Having said so, we are hopeful that they should not given the command agriculture project to the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development. Right now, there is no fertilizer when one requires it, as well as diesel for tilling the land. It has not been there because they are failures. They failed and we are saying that because of this report. We are coming to the end of the year and will be having new things next year.
Unity was used during the Command Agriculture and through singleness of purpose, people shown the right direction. They were advised to use herbicides to weed their crops and not use the hoe. They need to be taught on how best they can put agricultural practice to their advantage. If that were to be done, we would be successful.
The Lord is going to be with us once we remain united and everything will be achieved. We should not be partisan when we come to this august House. As we come here, I should represent people in Binga if they are growing sorghum and if the people in Bulawayo are rearing goats then it is alright. All Hon. Members should talk about the beauty of the things that should be done in my constituency.
Mr. Speaker, as regards the Committee of Agriculture, the contour regions are no longer being put in place and as a result of this climate change, a lot of soil erosion is taking place. There are severe river and dam siltations. We need to have graders that do the contour ridges for our fields in our areas so that we can farm better. Should there be a glut of rains, there will not be any soil erosion and our crops will not be flooded.
We also want to add the issue of veld fires. These should not be confined to the inhabitants of an area to deal with the issue. We should have in place provincial structures and equipment used to deal with veld fires as is the case with other countries. It is unfortunate that Zimbabwe has been sanctioned, but we hear that the United States of American and the United Kingdom said that sanctions were going to come to an end. Maybe, we could have a plane dousing flames in each province once there is a veld fire.
A lot of trees are being affected by worms – the mupfuti and mazhanje trees. The army worm is causing a lot of disaster to our own flora. If this was to happen for two years, we would run the risk of having a desert in Zimbabwe. We were asking through this august House to have such issues addressed so that these forests could be sprayed using herbicides to control these army worms that are attacking our own trees. With those words, Mr. Speaker, I urge that there be unity of purpose in this country and that we should advise one another so that we can win. A hungry nation is an angry nation. If you are a beggar, you do not have any dignity. I thank you.
HON. MUDARIKWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Mr. Speaker
Sir, I want to thank Hon. Chitindi, the Chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture but in the process, I want to highlight certain fundamentals which the Committee must look at.
We must have a National Agricultural policy that controls the costs of inputs at all our farms. Our fertilizer is very expensive Mr. Speaker Sir. There is duty on herbicides, our diesel is too expensive, our engine oil is also too expensive and tractors are also very expensive. So, you are faced with a situation whereby you are developing agriculture wanting to produce something which you cannot export because of this cost of inputs.
Now, in some instances, you have got even EMA coming to the farm demanding that you should have a hazardous licence which then makes everything very expensive. We need to see how we can contain farms, how to control the cost of inputs because as long as our inputs are where they are, yes we can only produce for local consumption. We will not be able to produce for exports. If we are not producing for exports, how then do we replace these tractors when they get old? It is a nasty situation which must be addressed, we must identify why our fertilizer is expensive. Why should we be charging duty on herbicides? We want our people to be always weeding with badza so that they get old yet we want to protect the farmers. We want to modernise our agricultural production. How do we modernise with all these expensive things on our farms.
Mr. Speaker Sir, communal lands like Hon. Chimanikire has mentioned used to produce more maize than commercial farms but it you go to communal lands now, it is a sorry state. The production in communal lands has gone down mostly because there is no agricultural finance system in place for farmers in the communal lands. There used to be AFC where there was group landing. Those things must come back. We must allow our farmers to be able to borrow independently then other inputs can then come. We have got people who have capacity to borrow and pay. On an average, there are five million cattle in the communal lands, if you mortgage them, it is a lot of money, almost $2, 5 billion available in communal lands.
So, the people have the cattle which we can use for mortgage but we are denying them this and trying to create certain situations where we will end up in a very difficult situation.
Cotton production; it is important that we revive cotton production because it affects ecological regions 4 and 5. That is where most of these cotton producers are. These are our communal land and this is where most of our people live. How do we improve the quality of life of our people if they are not producing? We must give them inputs to produce. Economics is different from soccer. In soccer, you would have 30 people in the stadium playing; 70 000 people watching in the stadium, five million people watching on the television at home – that is soccer. However, in economics if we have too many spectators, few workers, the end result is that the nation will not grow, the economy will not grow. People are not contributing; individuals must contribute everyday. If we generate US$1 a day, what does that translate to? It is a lot of money. So, this is our situation, this is our tragedy, this is what the Committee must look at. Why is it that agricultural activities in communal lands have gone down?
Mr. Speaker Sir, the issue of importation of vegetables, people can say whatever they want to say but this must never be allowed. Farms in South Africa, once you give them an order, they pay you. If you go there and say you want to buy 1 000 cabbages valued at a certain price, they give you 10% commission as long as it is coming to Zimbabwe.
The simple reason is that their cost of production down there is cheaper. They do not have all these other costs where you will be paying various items until you get to the market. There are no police road blocks, they just come overnight. Our farmers suffer to get vegetables for you to eat and yet if they do not produce them, as a nation we will start importing.
So, we have a capacity in this country. All supermarkets who want vegetables must go to the communal lands and contract people in Mutoko, Seke, UMP and Murehwa; they have the capacity to produce. The tragedy is that it is the same Ministry of Agriculture that issues permits for importation of vegetables. They must issue permits for importing new Ministers and we get rid of them because they have no capacity to run agriculture. Why should they be issuing out permits to import cabbages and carrots which we can produce. The only thing they must do is that the Committee must allow them to import a Minister.
There is no point for allowing these things to happen because the tragedy is that we have destroyed all our communal lands. The
Chairperson of the Committee must look at this and protect our farmers. Our farmers are selling their goats to produce vegetables. Our farmers are selling cattle to produce vegetables and they come to Mbare Musika to find vegetables produced in South Africa, some of them GMO, nicely packed and we compete and say it is fair. When there is democracy in any society, there must also be economic democracy and that can only be achieved when we allow for a fair playing field for all agricultural productions.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I have mentioned the issue of loans. Micro finance must never be allowed to be used by farmers because the interest rates are too expensive. Zimbabwe is the only country where we now have more micro finance institutions than the whole of Africa has got. The way micro finance is done is criminal. These people are robbing people overnight and we must not allow farmers to use micro finance because they will go down. Command Agriculture was a great success, it must be supported. However, we must have Command Agriculture on small grains which are drought resistant. When we have Command Agriculture for small grains, we must then look at the value chain. We have produced rapoko, what is the next product – we meal the rapoko, we brew seven days beer. Instead, our youths are dying because of musombodhiya. We are losing a whole generation because of musombodhiya. We must be encouraging seven days to be produced in communal lands. It must be is brewed on a Monday and on Friday, it would be ready to drink. We will never have grandchildren – once they take musombodhiya, they are gone and the system is washed out. It is an unfortunate situation Mr. Speaker Sir and we must never allow this to happen.
Command Livestock, artificial insemination is very critical for us to develop the quality of the cattle that is available. If you go to the communal lands, there is no difference. If somebody is flying in a helicopter, he sees the cattle on the ground, just like goats; they are so small. If you want to slaughter them, you just hold with one hand, it is unbelievable the size of the cattle we have which is all because of inbreeding. There has not been proper management and the Committee must take the responsible Government departments and Ministers to task why this is happening in this county. The tragedy is that last week I went to Botswana; the moment you cross Ramakwabane River, the size of the cattle is big and when you come to the Zimbabwean side, the size is very small and they will be making a lot of noise, which is just unheard of. We need to improve on the quality of the cattle in our communal lands.
We must also move into Command Tobacco, because it gives this country foreign currency. As long as we do not have foreign currency, we would be wasting our time. We must be a nation of exporters. If we take 500 million and put it into tobacco and export, next year things will not be same. The production of tobacco must go up every year. We can easily have a US$2/3 billion tobacco industry if we support it. We need to support tobacco starting from the training of the farmers and protecting the tobacco farmers from crooks that are always there at the tobacco floors. If you go there, you find all the makoronyeras. They moved from Mbare and they are now based at the tobacco floors.
So, tobacco farmers must be protected. The last thing that I had missed is that I need the Committee on Agriculture and the Committee on SMEs to go to Mbare Musika any day and see the conditions our farmers are living when they sleep overnight to sell their vegetables tomorrow in the morning. It is unacceptable in this world. There is no security and they are now advised that you must sleep on top of your products for them not to be stolen. It is something that we must continue doing. We were elected by these people, but we are forgetting them because we are here in Harare.
On agriculture colleges, it is very good that we have got all these colleges, but the tragedy of our colleges is that they are training people to work as fertilizer salesmen and not as farmers. They are training our sons to be employees. We must start training farmers and for you to train the farmers, the syllabus must change. If you enroll today, you go straight on a farm for a year and then you come back to the school. You are training to be a farmer and not to be an employee. The last thing is that the Ministry of Education has now made it compulsory and agriculture is now being taught at Grade 7 and secondary schools.
Most of these primary schools teach agriculture but they cannot produce a single bundle of vegetables. They teach agriculture and they cannot produce a bag of maize. They have got everything and they are passing, harvesting in the exercise books and textbooks but there is nothing real that is being harvested. How do you have agriculture where you just harvest in the textbooks and exercise books? This person passes everything with 1st grade? Where is the 1st grade on the ground? The Committee of Agriculture must also visit schools and identify what is happening there.
Some secondary schools buy milk from Dairibord, but I think all secondary schools must have their own cattle to produce. They must have their own dairy cows to produce their own milk for their own consumption so that there is something that is there where we will say these people are able to produce something on their own. I want to thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to thank Hon. Chitindi and all the Committee Members of Agriculture. It is a job well-done but you need to continue doing more, because agriculture is the backbone of our economy. Thank you.
HON. ADV. CHAMISA: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir. I want to appreciate this important report. This is a very important report because agriculture defines who we are as a people. You may recall that since time immemorial, we would have most of the Members of Parliament who were agriculturalists. They would first go to the farm and then they would sit at two because they would have finished farming. You would find that in other Parliaments, Parliament commences in the morning but in this country, we have maintained the tradition that we commence Parliament in the afternoon consistent with the tradition that was there during the Rhodesian era and framework.
This was also to place emphasis on the importance of agriculture as the mainstay of the economy. Going forward, it is my view that we made a mistake when we finished the liberation struggle. People were not supposed to be demobilised. We were supposed to continue in terms of the national mobilisation in the national side, because when you are talking about agriculture, you are talking about a culture. When you are talking about a culture, you are talking about deportment and a mindset of the people. For us to be able to move forward, look at Japan. After the World War, they did not demobilise. This is why they have managed to also have an anchor and oomph in terms of the direction of economic revival.
For us, what we now need, if we are to deal with poverty and hunger - is to consider them to be things that can be confronted in a war like mindset so that we mobilise the entire nation, particularly those in the rural areas and even in urban areas. What we need is not just a term called Command Agriculture. I was checking from the Committee Report - for anything to be called a programme, it must have objectives, timelines, standards and targets, but if you look at the Command
Agriculture, the targets keep on moving.
There are no clear and set out objectives and there is no document that would say we are able to juxtapose between the intended and the real. That is a problem and I think it dovetails into the issue of policy raised by Hon. Matangira. We do not have a defined agricultural policy and with it, we need an agricultural revolution so that apart from just the issue of a land reform, we are moving into an agrarian reform. What are the aspects of an agrarian reform? We must first be clear in terms of the vision. By what time do we need to be clear about what we are achieving? How do we move our people from subsistence agriculture to commercial agriculture and from Command Agriculture to demand agriculture? How do we make sure that our people in the rural areas are not just focusing on food security but they are focusing on good surplus?
This will transform our peasant approach to a pleasant commercial agriculture approach so that we make agriculture a business not only in the communal areas but also in the commercial areas. Right now, agriculture is not taken as a business because we were at fault in our commercial models, especially the issue of pricing. You cannot tell me that you buy through GMB at US$390 per tonne, but when you are selling to millers, Government is selling at US$270 per tonne. It tells you that we are trying to subsidise at an output level. That kind of a model is wrong.
Let us go and subsidise at an input level. If we are to deal with our fertilizer producing companies to make sure that they are productive and are also commercially competitive, let us have arrangements with other countries or with other companies elsewhere so that we have technology transfer. We are then able to quicken and cheapen our capacity to produce in terms of our inputs. That must also change. We cannot subsidise at output level without focusing on the inputs and also having the necessary financing models that are then going to help this process. Together with that, we need to have an agrarian reform, to move at targeting the yield per hectare.
If you look at our average yield per hectare, it is about 0.8 tonnes per hectare; the lowest probably in the region. In Malawi it is almost 10 to 12 tonnes per hectare. It is because of a careful deployment of strategies. It is a careful deployment of the vision that they want. We must all know, in this Parliament, what is our target in the next five years. We must have a five year agricultural plan and that plan is supposed to carry everyone on board, those in the country side and also those who are commercially farming and we must make sure that we go into the rural areas, do away with ox drawn ploughs so that we also raise the standard of living of our people.
At village level why do we not have tractors and mechanised agriculture which is targeted at our communal farmers, moving communal farmers from a communal farming model to a commercial farming model. It is possible. It has happened in Brazil, it is happening in other countries, in the Philippines. I have looked at the model in the Philippines. Let us go there, have a radical revolution in the country - side in terms of giving our people the capacity. Let us give the capacity to our people in the country side.
I am sure the chairperson would agree with me that what we need is to make sure that we move this nation from being a consuming nation to being a producing nation. We cannot be a nation of consumers. We need to be a nation of producers for the region, for the whole world. In Israel there, they have a desert. In the European Union they want organic food. We could actually become a source of that organic food once we deal with our pricing model, once we deal with our financing models, but more importantly, we must also deal with the markets.
The Command Agriculture Project is being conceived without the market in sight. We first produce and then we say, where do we sell. The first thing is to say, where is the market. We then arrange marketing models and the markets, have to be understood. Once we have the markets then we come back to look at the value chain and we say, in terms of producing how do we produce for that market, what kind of surplus do we need, what is the food security requirement? That way, we are able then to move forward.
I would say the last two points I want to mention is, let us also introduce fundamental technology in our agriculture. We are not just an island, other countries are already moving with speed. Smith did something positive. He had a plan of dams. I have gone to the archives and I have looked at his plan – over 14 000 dams. Right now we are sitting at about 10 001 dams. We could actually have more dams so that Zimbabwe is green throughout the whole year. It is possible to make sure that we are a green belt, we have very good soils, we have very hard working people, we have a very good climate, but what we need is to make sure that we have consistent and continuous rain so that we are also able to upgrade our irrigation equipment programmes and also our capacities, but one point I am also very clear about which is the penultimate point, is the issue of resettling our people. I do not believe that we are not going to have fundamental reforms in this country until we have resettled our people.
In the villages we cannot have development if we have haphazard type of settlements. Let us go back to our rural areas, have organised linear settlements so that we are able to provide infrastructure where people are settled properly. We have areas where people are supposed to graze their animals within their local areas. We will never be able to get electricity to each and everyone with this kind of settlement patterns and agriculture would also not be meaningful without a proper settlement pattern. This is a revolution we must enter into, to say how do we go into the rural areas, get our chiefs, get our kraal heads to also understand planning.
Right now, you go to a rural area; a kraal head or a chief will just go there and peg even in a swampy area, even in a marsh land. That is going to affect us in the long run. We need to rope in our traditional institutions, have proper planning of our rural areas so that agriculture becomes a fundamental point, but on the basis of reorganised rural areas and communal areas.
I would also want to say let us reintroduce the commodity stock exchange with published prices almost every day. Let us have a commodity stock exchange. Why do we not have a commodity stock exchange so that we have pumpkins, peanuts, everything. People know that it is now business unusual. Let it be business and business in agriculture. With those contributions, Hon. Speaker Sir, I want to say this is a good drive. Yes, we need to tweak the Command Agriculture. Let it not be command because you are talking military. It is good to have our military involved, but let it be a civilian national, inclusive programme so that you are not just limiting it by way of nomenclature that is quite exclusive. Thank you very much.
HON. P.D. SIBANDA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. Hon. Speaker I have never contributed to any debate on agriculture. This is my first time and that is why I was so much burning to make my contribution. Agriculture is a critical sector in our economy and I just want to say that in terms of contribution in this country, agriculture contributes between
11% and 14% of our GDP - with room to grow beyond that level, Hon.
I basically want to speak on three things that pertain to the problems that we have had of agriculture historically and at present. Hon. Speaker, historically the challenge of Agriculture in this country has been a problem of discrimination. Hon. Speaker, I am going to speak about discrimination in four areas. Historically agriculture was premised on racial discrimination. The funding of agriculture was mainly based on race rather than on capability or anything of that sort.
That was the pre-independence era.
The current era is characterised by three forms of discrimination.
Two of them have been touched slightly by my colleagues and I am going to just add to what they have said. The first one is on inputs. I think in this new dispensation, Hon. Speaker, we have a great opportunity for rebuilding our country and ensuring that we move together as one people. It is true that discrimination in the distribution of inputs of agriculture is taking place. How is it taking place Hon. Speaker? When inputs move from the central point to the districts and wards of this country, the problem that we are encountering is that we are allowing political activists to be the ones who are responsible for distribution of inputs to the final recipients.
I think that is a challenge because, let me say that it is natural and it is inherent that when you give me a responsibility to distribute something, as a politician, I will tend to favour those that are of the same political inclination. My suggestion to that, Hon. Speaker, is that let the GMB staff and civil servants be the ones that are involved in the distribution of inputs to the final recipients rather than us taking people that occupy political positions who are not employed by the State. That compromises and it leads to that first level of discrimination that I talked about.
The second level of discrimination, Hon. Speaker that we have in this country is based on regions. We have all come to know that Zimbabwe is divided into five regions; and some of the regions are not good for crop agriculture. That is what we have come to learn and that is what we have come to accept, but I want to show you two things that show that belief is actually not a correct position. Firstly, in Israel agriculture is a highly developed industry, despite the fact that the geography of Israel is not naturally conducive to agriculture, but right now Israel is one of the biggest exporters of agricultural products ,regardless of that fact.
Number two, let me show you this Hon. Speaker. Binga is regarded as one of those areas that is in region 4 or 5, which is generally regarded as an area which is not suitable for crop agriculture. As a result, when it comes to agricultural funding, such areas are discriminated.
However, let me show you, there is a new irrigation scheme which was introduced in my constituency called Bulawayo Kraal Irrigation Scheme. Hon. Speaker, that irrigation scheme, as I speak right now has got a good crop of seed maize that is being grown in an area that is generally regarded as not good for crop agriculture. Why is this place producing a good crop? It is because of investment in technology. Why is Israel doing very well in terms of agriculture? It is because it has invested so much in technology to ensure that they are able to produce crops anywhere within the country. Therefore, Hon. Speaker, it is my call upon not only this House but the Government, that instead of us continuing to discriminate areas on the basis of knowledge that was acquired in the 1950s and 60s, let us adapt to the new knowledge that is there and invest in technology so that we may be able to distribute our agricultural resources equitably to all areas. That is going to help in terms of our total output as a country. Therefore, Hon. Speaker, that is my call that I am making.
The final area of discrimination in agriculture is found in areas of marketing. Hon. Chamisa slightly touched on that. Rural areas have a problem with markets of agricultural products. Rural areas have poor road infrastructure and as a result, to get their crops to the markets which are usually based in urban areas takes a lot of costs. Therefore, it is important that as a country we come up with a measure to ensure that the markets become available, especially to the rural farmer. Hon. Speaker, that was my only first ever contribution to the agricultural debate.
Thank you Hon. Speaker.
HON. RUNGANI: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. MATSUNGA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 5th December, 2017.
On the motion of HON. RUNGANI seconded by HON.
MATSUNGA, the House adjourned at Eighteen Minutes past Four o’clock p.m until Tuesday, 5th December, 2017.