You are here:Home>Senate Hansard>SENATE HANSARD 27 JULY 2017 VOL 26 NO 74

SENATE HANSARD 27 JULY 2017 VOL 26 NO 74

Download attachments:

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday 27th July, 2017

The Senate met at Half-past Two o’clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE in the Chair)

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: I move that Question Time and Order of the Day, Number 1 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until the rest of Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON PEACE AND SECURITY ON THE PREPAREDNESS OF THE GRAIN MARKETING BOARD ON HANDLING THE 2016/2017 CROP DELIVERIES AND THE SUCCESS OF THE COMMAND AGRICULTURE PROGRAMME

     Second Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the First Report of the Thematic Committee on Peace and Security on the Preparedness of the Grain Marketing Board on Handling the 2016/2017 Crop Deliveries and the Success of the Command Agriculture Programme.

          Question again proposed.

          *HON. SEN. CHIEF CHIDUKU: Thank you Mr. President for giving me the opportunity to add my voice to the debate on the report that was tabled by Hon. Sen. Mumvuri seconded by Hon. Sen. Makone. When we went out on tours to witness the success of Command Agriculture, it is a very important issue.  It is an issue that caught our eyes.  A lot was said by other Hon. Senators but what I witnessed was that if this project runs for two to three years; right now there are reports that the silos are full - where to store our grains is going to be a challenge because people are now into farming.  The issue at hand is that there are a few challenges that we met because there are always challenges when such projects are implemented.  Others were saying that wrong inputs were availed to them, especially in the form of seed but they ended up taking what was available.  Others were expecting seeds that give high yield such as the Nzou or elephant seed and others needed the Zebra or Mbizi seed but could not get it and ended up taking whatever was available.      We are requesting that in the next farming season, the Government should avail inputs in time and that people should be given the seed that they prefer.  In other areas, we also realised that some could not get chemicals that destroy the weed and they ended up going into fields to cultivate in order to remove the weed. We need those chemicals. 

There was also a challenge of late farming.  They were those farming under irrigation and those farming in dry land.  The Government first availed seed to those under irrigation schemes because they have water throughout the year but for those who wait upon the rains, they were not given adequate inputs because the rain season is not predictable. I think that was supposed to be the other way round. Those who depend on rainfall should have been availed input earlier.  Despite that, we witnessed that both those who depend on rainfall and those who depend on irrigation produced high yields. 

          The other challenge that we witnessed was that of the moisture content of the grain to be taken to GMB.  It affected the ploughing of other crops such as wheat.  We witnessed others who had their maize ready to be taken to GMB, the moisture content was condemned.  They ended up keeping their maize. That was a challenge that we witnessed and the farmer must be assisted.  The Government needs to seek for funding in order to acquire drying machines at GMB to ensure drying is done.  They were saying if the maize is dried using the machines, the value of the maize will go down.  A person should be given an opportunity to maybe have 40 hectares of maize and leave the other area to put wheat. 

          We went in six provinces; those with small farm lands and those with big all managed to get high yields.  So this project was well received and was successful. What is important is that this programme is not imposed on anyone and that you are availed inputs which you should be able to pay back.  It is like a loan facility. Where can you get a loan where you are given a loan to use and only pay back after you have profit?  There is nowhere you can get such a loan.  In all areas that we visited, people appreciated the high yields that we got especially for maize.  We witnessed the silos around Lion’s Den.  Most of us had condemned those and we thought they could no longer be useful.  We looked down upon ourselves and thought we had no capacity to fill the silos, but currently all the silos are full.  What is going to happen to the maize that is still in the field?

We went around and witnessed this, but we did not go to all areas.  We only went to particular areas where we were satisfied and then we went to GMB to check their preparedness.  They explained their preparedness to us and took us on tours to see the silos, of which we were able to see whether they were ready for grain.  There is nothing that we did not see.  We had the whole team from the province to the district; all those who were under Command Agriculture.

We also went to the farmers.  There is one farmer who impressed me.  At his age, I said to myself if this person grows up – he is a young man.  He said that if you are going to my farm, you cannot walk.  You might as well use the bus because my farming area is too big.  We went on a tour of his farm on the bus because we could not walk the distance.  If we are to engage in such farming for two to three years, no one will remain poor.  If you find yourself poor after such a project, then there is something wrong with you.  Why, because maize is not difficult to farm especially if you avail your inputs on time.  It is different from tobacco.

 Maize is easy to plough, but the pricing that it attracts of US$390 a metric tonne is a good pricing.  We went around.  We had those who were capturing and recording hence you saw the report that was tabled in this House that nothing was left behind.  We went to other areas where maize was ready for the GMB, but they did not know what to do with it.  There is also a lot of maize that is still in the fields.

We then asked ourselves why the Government had not embarked on such a project before.  If you are worried about warthogs destroying your crops, it is because you would have farmed very little.  Our request is that, we understand they want to now introduce Command Livestock.  If that takes place or is implemented, no one will be left behind because our wealth is in our cattle, but we will also appreciate if this could be done in an equitable manner, looking at the various areas and the conducive areas for livestock rearing because we realised that if we take seed like Nzou and plant it in areas that are not conducive, you will not experience good yields.  So, they need to look at the regions and also avail the correct seed to that area.  If your region is not good for that area, then you need to take the smaller grains. 

We also realised that the round nuts are also wanted and that popcorn as well is in demand.  So, everything that is grown, any crop is in demand and it is not a challenge for us to engage in the farming of all those crops, but we should pay.  The problem is, we do not want to pay.  Most people cannot pay, but if we pay and then we are given other inputs, I think things will work out well.  I realised that the white man used to have the Farmers Corp and clubs such as the golf clubs.  They used to educate each other and conscientise each other on farming skills.  They never used to discuss at home, but their training was done at the clubs and the golf clubs.

They were exchanging ideas and discussing how they would pay after farming.  They were allowed to get things in bulk.  When they were going to sell, from the GMB they would come back with a lorry full of inputs and at the same time, fertiliser and seed would actually be brought home.  He would get his seed earlier even before being paid.  So, I think if we follow such good practice, everything will work out well.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. MAWIRE:  Thank you Mr. President.  I want to thank you for affording me the opportunity to add my voice to the issue under debate.  I am a member of the Committee which went on tours with the Peace and Security Committee.  For sure, we went around.  After coming to this House, there is talk and gossip that people are not farming and that command farming is a waste of money, but we were impressed when we went on tour and everyone witnessed what the project had achieved.  We were all surprised to see the farming that took place.  Even the preparedness of the GMB was amazing.

What I realise now is that we are going to have a challenge.  We are hearing the media that the silos are already full.  So, where will the remaining maize that is still in the fields and still to be taken to the GMB go?  So, as a Government, I am requesting that we need to have extra silos for emergency to ensure that we have somewhere to put our grain. 

The issue that is of challenge out there is the issue of the middle men.  Those are the people who are now going to get the maize and they are going to sell it outside the country.  That is a challenge for all of us because what we are saying that is the elderly as well as the young are the ones at risk.  They experienced a lot of challenges trying to prepare their land for agriculture.  We are saying these middle men are looting because they are buying a bucket for US$2 instead of US$6.  They acquire a tonne at US$120 yet GMB is charging the same at US$390.  That is a painful situation and I urge the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development to ensure that their extension officers go around to educate the people on the dangers of selling grain to anyone, especially those who then sell it outside the country and also conscientising them on the losses that they are making.  Once people are aware and are knowledgeable on this, they will never sell their produce through the back door.

On Command Agriculture, people engaged in the project, but they did not have enough inputs.  They had problems with tractors.  Even the ones for hiring if available were few.  We want to thank the nation because people continued to engage in farming.  Loans should be availed for people to be able to buy tractors which can be paid in instalments.  I am sure will do that.  Once people are given such equipment, I foresee us having even higher yields.  I think the issue I have discovered is that the white men never used to farm, we are the ones who were doing it.  We are the ones who were labouring in those farms, but at the end we did not get anything.

          On the issue of driers, it is an issue that was reiterated at the GMB.  I am sure you have realised how high our yields are, so the moisture content was a challenge for farmers with the GMB.  So, if you took your maize to the GMB without the required moisture content, you had to go back with it.  The GMB did not have driers to dry the maize.  So, I want to agree with the previous speaker, Sen. Chief Chiduku that the GMB should invest in driers to ensure that the maize undergoes drying at the GMB.  That will also deal with the issue of the middlemen.

          There are others who are jealous and are causing veld fires in the fields of those who succeeded in Command Agriculture.  Senator Goto’s field was burnt down as well as another farmer from Ngezi.  Our fear right now is that since veld fires have started, this will increase because people are jealous.  I think that this is an issue that the Government should look into and give stiffer penalties for those causing veld fires.  I think this problem of veld fires will be dealt with once and for all.

          Having more maize is an advantage because it will give us foreign currency which is now gold in this nation.  It will also alleviate poverty in the sense that mealie-meal will be affordable to everyone.  The yields that we have produced this year are quite high.  We have youths who have engaged in farming and it is encouraging to note that our youths are also engaging in farming.  We used to see this with the White men.  Their children used to start farming at a very tender age.  As a nation, we are also impressed when our children are following our footsteps and taking up farming seriously.

          Mr. President, what we request is that this project continues to run for the next two or three years.  The White farmers used to get loans for even five years and they would continue farming on the loan, getting inputs from the Government.  That is what we are appealing to our Government, that they should continue assisting local farmers.  The Command Farming Programme is good, the maize crop is in abundance but there is no relish.  We are now coming up with Command Livestock, which means the relish will now be available.  We will now have sadza and relish.  We also heard that there is Command Fish coming.  We will accept it and we even have dams on our farms.  Others are in the process of setting up dams.  We still need more, like Command Round nuts, Groundnuts, the list is endless.  I thank you.

          +HON. SEN. KHUMALO: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to contribute.  I am not one of those who went out on a tour of the success of Command Agriculture.  What makes me happy is that this particular Committee which is referred to as Peace and Security, I believe that they came up with a good idea to show that food is a matter of peace and security in our nation.  This makes me so excited and I would like to thank them for this.  Many Committees do not think along those lines.  Food is part of every Committee that exists in Parliament.  Food is part of every work and job that we have to carry out.

          I am also excited because when agriculture is viewed as a priority, employment is created.  We can employ various people in our fields and they will earn a living.  However, what we need to take note of is that these days because of cash shortages people are facing challenges in accessing cash.  Therefore, if workers do not get their money from the bank, they are demoralised.  What we would want to see is a situation where people are able to access their money after working for it. Right now people spend a lot of time in queues, some even sleep at the banks.  Instead of working, people now spend a lot time at the bank, which derails production.  After spending all that time, at times they do not get the money.

          When people plant maize – of course we spoke about wheat and soya beans, but maize brings a lot of other things like making cooking oil and stock feeds.  We realise that the issue of value addition is being put into consideration.  Some people may not have known this.  This also creates employment.

          What I only want to critique is that this maize seed which is provided is not healthy because it causes us to eat and grow big.  People who love maize, you will recognise them with their weight because you have to take a lot of it in order to feel full.  Our Government should also consider assisting people by providing and encouraging them to plant small grains like, rapoko, sorghum and millet because these particular plants, especially if you consider those people who are infected by HIV/AIDS, if they eat much of these small grains, their health improves.  So, the Government needs to consider encouraging people to plant small grains for better health.

          In addition, our Government does not assist people to do research, that is further assessing and evaluating on the issue of small grains because they put so much importance on the maize.  There is need for research to find out the value of what we eat.  People need to know more about the small grains.  Since there are so many varieties of maize like short, long and medium term.  We advocate that the Government also looks into the small grain variety. 

I have spoken a lot about seed but so many of us do not have the farms to implement such a scheme.  They rear cattle and other kinds of livestock.  We pray that Command Agriculture also put into consideration those who rear all kinds of livestock.  We know that there shall come a time when we will be told that there is not enough money for this project.  We advocate that those who are into livestock production can be part of the Command Agriculture Scheme.  Others would want to rear goats, sheep and not cattle only.  May they be put into consideration so that they may be part of those who sell and gain profits like the others.  So many people are excited about it because those who did the maize Command Agriculture have benefited a lot. Therefore, we hope that those who rear livestock will be in the same situation soon.

I would like to thank our Government for what they did.  I hope that it will not end with maize, soya and wheat alone but that it will go on to include some of us who rear livestock because we want to benefit from this scheme.  Even if we might not be able to get it from the banks, we also want to sleep on the queues trying to get money like others.  I thank you.

+HON. SEN. MKWEBU:  Thank you Mr. President for giving me this time to debate on the motion brought about by Hon. Sen. Mumvuri seconded by Hon. Sen. Mavhunga. Their Thematic Committee on Peace and Security looked into the issue of Command Agriculture in different areas. 

I would like to applaud the Government who saw it fit that there should be various aspects that they needed to assist especially those who practice irrigation.  When it comes to irrigation, especially some of us who are in region 5, we were so backward and we were always affected by hunger and poverty.  It is not easy to be always waiting for or to be assisted.  It is good to have your own things or to have food that you can buy from nearby places.  Therefore, Command Agriculture has assisted us a lot as people of the Matabeleland region by assisting us with irrigation at ARDA and at other irrigation schemes that were put in place.

We had a good bumper harvest and therefore this Committee is of utmost importance because it looked into the issue of how people will manage to get food or how people will get food in different areas or how food is preserved in different GMBs.   People are prepared to take their harvested grain to GMB and different GMBs are ready to accept the maize from different people. 

What troubles us a little is that for GMB not to accept maize saying that it is not yet dry – in the regions where we come from, there are wild animals like elephants. When they get into your field, you cannot remove them. They will destroy all your crops as you wait for the people from Parks and Wildlife to come and assist you.  I would therefore, like to encourage the Government to consider getting a lot of harvesters so that when we harvest, they can come and assist us.  Some of us have lost our crops through veld fires.  When gold panners try to detect gold, they just put up fires anywhere.  Our fields are not protected and we are always afraid of losing our crops.  I plead with the Government or the Minister of Agriculture to look into the issue of assisting us in getting a lot of harvesters per district so that we are able to harvest quickly before we lose our crops.  People had tried their best but a lot have lost the crops through veld fires.

There is also the issue of tractors.  People do not have tractors to do their farming.  They try to use whatever they have at hand and harvest a little.  We are urging the Government to get more tractors for us.  We will pay with what we would have harvested from our fields. 

Another problem is that even if you have a tractor, for example, I used to plant seeds after the tractor had tilled the land.  However, it was not easy for me to farm the 50 hectares using that method.  It was not easy.  We hope that we get planters so that we are able to farm as much as we can. Even though we are not able to irrigate, I will farm the 50 hectare field and use the rainfall that we will get.  Of course I might not be sure whether we have enough rains or not, but I will determine myself to do that.

We encourage that the inputs be distributed on time to meet the farming season.  That causes trouble when we are about to harvest - because some animals like elephants will come and devour the crops before we harvest.  If we get inputs when there is ample time, we are able to harvest in time. 

It has been said before that some people were getting seeds that were not suited to their regions.  People just accepted as they had been given but they were very clear that some of the seed was not proper for their regions.  If we plant sorghum or millet, it would be better because these are good and healthy crops.  Different hotels are now serving sorghum and millet.  Therefore, it is important that we do not only focus on maize, but that there are different crops that are looked into.

When the seed came, we travelled long distances to get it.  Some people had to come to the capital city - all the way from Gwanda or Plumtree to come and collect. It is not easy therefore to get the seed on time.  We therefore plead with the Minister who is concerned to take note of this so that people get their seeds when the time is still there and people are able to farm properly.  Mr. President, in different regions, we also have problems because of this farming issue.  In region 5, we do not farm only but we also practice cattle rearing because if you have cattle and you have 50 hectares, you can use 20 hectares for maize and the other 20 hectares for grass.  If you want to harvest the grass, you have to hire tractors from mechanisation and they take time to come and cut the grass and put it in place for you.  At times you realise that mechanisation has a tractors and Agritex has a reaper and a bailer, for you to get in touch with all those people to reap the grass for you, it will take a lot of time. 

          Therefore, we do hope that people in various offices can work properly and do their jobs and not only come to sit.  I do believe what was done by the Government when it comes to command farming is very important.  This is a very important aspect for us as a nation but I plead with the Government that it looks into those who rear cattle as well so that they are able to provide us with the proper machinery to cut grass and bail it so that we are able to supplement food for our livestock.  Therefore, we do hear that there shall be a launch of cattle rearing in different regions and that the Government is looking for funds for this.  We plead with them that women be taken into consideration in agri-farming because most of the time they work so hard.  They are ready to do cattle rearing or to farm; therefore, I do hope that they will be put into consideration because they are required to produce some sort of security which some women might not have.  I do hope that we will be given cattle so that whatever produce we produce we can be able to pay.         Hon. President of the Senate, I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity. 

          *HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity to debate on command agriculture.  Firstly, I want to thank Hon. Sen. Mumvuri, the Chairperson for the Thematic Committee on Peace and Security. I am a member of the Committee.  We went out and toured farming areas to assess the success of command agriculture.  As a Committee, as we are on the tours, we investigate and come up with solutions as to how we can advise the Executive to ensure that the project proceeds successfully.  I will say what the farmers said when we were out there.  They said command was not a forced matter but as an individual you volunteered to be part of the Command Agriculture, so we went to various provinces.  We first went to Gweru and realised the produce for command agriculture was not yet available.  The seed was still in Mexico but they were prepared that that seed should come to Zimbabwe. 

          I did not know that there were various processes that entailed the processing of maize.  The process is quite a long process, so, we did not see anything in Midlands, then we went to Masvingo. The farming taking place in Masvingo is very good, farmers are farming.  All the farmers came out in their numbers to accept the project.  What they said is as Government, they wanted us to address the following issues; firstly seed differs according to regions and soil types.  They were people who went round taking the different soil types. Now the seed should be availed according to the soil types but the Government did not do that.  It acquired seed and gave the same seed throughout the country so the farmers were requesting the Government to look into the matter and ensure that different regions are availed seed that is suitable for their various soils in different regions.

          Secondly, the farmers said that they requested the Government that when it avails the seed, it should also avail fertiliser at the same time because in most areas, they were given seed first and after about a month or two, fertiliser followed.  So, the farmers were saying it is a challenge and it affects their farming, they want the inputs to come at the same time to ensure that they produce the high yields that they want and anticipate under the command agriculture scheme.

          What I also witnessed as we went round is that in all provinces that we went to, the tractors, planters – there were quite a number of planters in Mashonaland West, especially in the area where a young man was talked about that he is a good farmer and there were 14 tractors.  He works together with the others and assist them with planters as well.  As a Committee member, I think the Government should also look into the fact that when inputs are being distributed, they should be equitably distributed in all provinces.  If Mashonaland East has 14 provinces, if these tractors are distributed equitably, the other provinces will also benefit.  So, in this regard, we request on behalf of the farmers that all provinces get inputs and mechanisation equipment. 

          Furthermore, the other issues were mentioned by my colleagues and then on the issue of coming up with command agriculture, it was not carefully planned. What I request is that the Government look into the issue of insurance.  I am sure you heard that other Hon. Senators talk of how veld fires have destroyed their crops, especially Hon. Goto’s farm. If the crop had been assured, the Government would not have incurred a loss.

I thank the Government for command agriculture but let us look at the challenges that we have faced and go back to the drawing board and see where we can improve in terms of the success of the Command Agriculture. Insurance is good in the sense that even the farmer who has lost out due to natural disasters can be able to pay back the loan and get something to ensure that the next farming season he can continue engaging in farming activities.

The farmers also talked about the issue of transport that yes, transport is available but it is not timely. Transport should be efficient. So, the Government should also look into that matter because the transport that is being used by GMB is the transport of other people who charge very high rates that cost our farmers.

On the issue of the weight of the maize; when the farmers come with their produce to GMB, they can be told that their maize is not ready and this affects them. They are then disappointed that they would have transported their maize. So, the Government and GMB should ensure that our farmers get tasters so that they are able to do the tasting at the farms to ensure that the moisture content is right and that their grain is dried rather than have them carry the maize to GMB only to be told it is still not as dry as they want it.  That is when you find middlemen coming in. The middlemen go back to GMB and sell the maize, and the farmer will have experienced a loss. I want to put emphasis on that.

Then there was another one that we came across in Mashonaland West. The silos at Lion’s Den are said to be number two in Africa but some employers raised the issue that the books were not in order. The books should be in order because there are some farmers who collected coupons from GMB and thereafter, they also went and got other coupons elsewhere. So, there was an issue of double-dipping. There was a lady who emphasised on the issue of transparency and having books in order to curb this issue of double dipping. This will also help to reduce corruption because Command Agriculture is a good project but to be honest; this is a success and makes us proud really. As a Government, we should put systems in place that protect the Government and the farmers as well.

In my opinion, if this project takes place next year and we manage to address the issues that I have mentioned here, I foresee this project taking Zimbabwe to another level. I want to thank the Chairperson and the Committee that went round. We went for quite a number of days and learnt a lot out there. I was promised a piece of land by the Chief because this encouraged me to venture into farming. What we are doing is commendable but we should do it properly and in a well mannered way for our families to prosper.

*HON. SEN MALULEKE: Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity. I want to add a few words concerning the first report that was presented by Hon. Mumvuri, seconded by Hon. Makone. They did a good job that which we read about in the Bible when Joseph was told that there will be so many years of hunger and so many years of good harvest. So, God has given us in Zimbabwe an opportunity to have more grain. Even the Chiefs’ granaries were no longer well-stocked. I think command agriculture was quite timely and also the Lord was on our side.

On the issue of command agriculture, surely the silos are now full of maize. What of us who are down there in Regions 5 and 6. We have a number of small grains. We did not get command assistance for the small grains but the grain that we have there is a lot. We ventured into farming and there is a lot of grain. Where are we going to put our small grains now that we have command agriculture which came through and was successful through God’s help and the Government? If you go there and see the maize that is there, you will think that a stone has been thrown and yet its maize. We have rich soils that are dark. We do not put fertilisers. We just farm and it is all organic. God loves us.

What we request is that with the situation that is there, we would also want to bring our small grains. How can you also peg the pricing at the same rate of $390 as maize and yet, small grains are difficult to farm. If you are to go into the field to check the farming that has taken place, you will be surprised because you can actually get lost. Our request is that God willing, those people who farm seed would also have seed for the small grains.

Small grains have become very important in hospitals because they are very healthy. We are going to continue farming more crops and request that our silos be increased. The silos should not only be in Norton or Banket but we want them to be real silos. Yes, I know GMB has but the other year we engaged in farming and when we took our grain there, it got rotten. So, what we request is that the silos must be well prepared to store our produce.

There are middlemen who are there. I went to Boli-Mhlanguleni and I saw at Triangle it is already there giving people sacks for free. They are taking per metric tonne $260 and they are losing $130, yet GMB takes at $390.  My request is that Hon. Made should also give us sacks to ensure that we stock our grain in order to bring to GMB.  We know that you say there are many silos but how can you say they are many yet the small grains have not yet come through.  Mr. President, I also realise that the people of Zimbabwe are naturally farmers.  We have always been good farmers and will remain good farmers.  Our request is that for the future projects such as command livestock, we also need command goats for some of us who do not eat red meat.  We also want command sheep and command quails. 

Mr. President, people can also prepare food like rupiza for us because you do not find it in these hotels and it is something that we want.  We want all small crops and other crops to go under command agriculture.  Now that we have command agriculture – a tourist visitor came to Chiredzi and he was surprised to see the yields that we have.  We took him to the GMB and he asked what that was.  I told him it was that.  After realizing this, he took photos and was surprised and shocked but all he could do was take photographs.  He would ask about the small grains.  He asked which types they were and how they would be prepared.  He acknowledged the success of the command agriculture.  He commended Zimbabwe because our grain grows unlike in their area.  I said to him whatever you are told there, they are all lies.  You have seen it for yourself, there is command agriculture. 

I took him to see command livestock and he was surprised to see what was taking place.  I told him that it is because of our President Mugabe who has availed this project to us.  He was very grateful and he took photos that he will take to America.  Command agriculture is there to stay.  Mr. President, I want to thank Hon.  Sen. Mumvuri.  They are not yet done, they should go to other areas down there.  You should  be funded so that you can go and see what is taking place.  Hon. Sen. Mumvuri and his Committee must come to my area and witness what is happening.  Thank you Mr. President for giving me an opportunity – [HON. CHIPANGA:  Achaenda out of order ipapa] –

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:    Can I beg for your protection Mr. President. 

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  He is your friend, you are protected. 

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:    I have an issue with Hon. Chipanga.  Thank you Mr. President.  I want to thank the Committee of Peace and Security for the Report through their Chairperson, seconded by Hon. Theresa Makone who is a member of the Committee.  We have been told of the tours that they did, I wish they had gone to all the provinces so that when we celebrate, we know we are celebrating something that is a success in the whole of Zimbabwe, not only one-sided. 

Mr. President, we applaud the special maize programme that was done last year under the command agriculture though some of us did not get the seeds.  We usually buy like always because if we submit our names to those doing the distribution of the seeds, every time we are told that we cannot be part of the programme because we think differently.  Mr. President that is exactly what happens. 

Mr. President, command agriculture in Matobo district under Matabeleland South, I only witnessed an irrigation where I am a member, Antelope Irrigation Scheme; they have got the seeds, the fertilizer came very late and by that time, the crop a write off.  The fertilizer they were supposed to use is still in our storerooms and I hope they are going to use it for the next crop.  The rains were too much and the crops were write off.  I heard that the people in charge of command agriculture in the province had to come and assess the damage that was done by the rains.  They did not get much.

Mr. President, this programme, as we are celebrating in those areas that got maize, we are happy because if our neighbours have enough food, we are also going to get the food because we are going to buy.  We support that the command agriculture be extended to the fisheries, wheat and the command livestock as it is being promised.  We hope that the distribution of all these is going to make sure that every Zimbabwean benefits from these inputs because we are part of all of you who are benefiting.

Mr. President, there was the facilitation by the Ministry of Agriculture of trying to assist the ailing parastatals.  I am talking of the ARDA Antelope that merged with Trek Petroleum and yesterday, it was reported that they are doing well.  They are doing very well for sure because my homestead is near where they are.  The project affected 60 households that even today do not have grazing land and farms and they do not have food.  They do not know how they are going to feed their families.  If 60 households are affected, it means about 500 people are affected.  I wish that the Committee of Peace and Security, as it has been alluded to looked into how everybody is happy by accessing food and grazing land.  If you have grazing land, you can go into command livestock. It can look into the issue of these 60 households that were affected and were violently evicted from the area where they have been…

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  For clarity purposes Hon. Member, is this part of the command agriculture or you are talking of an ARDA issue? 

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:    I am talking of the command agriculture that we are celebrating, is it not?  But, trying to refuse that we have people who have no food while we are celebrating...

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  No, all I am saying is, were these people moved because of the Command Agriculture Programme or because of the ARDA Programme?  We just want to be clear so that we know what we are debating on.

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  ARDA programme, it is part of Command Agriculture?

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  No, that was some years ago.  It was not this season when they were moved.

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  Mr. President, these people were moved last year during the Command Agriculture activities.  When everybody else was accessing maize seed and fertilisers, they could not access because their land was taken.  That is the point I am making.  So, they could not access the seed.  That is why they are not celebrating with us, because their fields were taken and violently taken for that matter. 

I have brought it to the House and to the attention of the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement, but we also have evidence of the evictions because excavators destroyed the people’s fields.  Yes, you can laugh Hon. Mashavakure, but that is exactly what happened to our people – [HON. SEN. MASHAVAKURE:  I am enjoying the expression.] -

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  Mr. President, you want to understand that these people settled in this area in 1912 when they were evicted from Fort Rixon Emakhandeni by the colonial masters.  So now, they are being evicted again at the height of the Command Agriculture Programme.  That is why I think it is important that I speak to this issue so that at least the Committee on Peace and Security can take it because I do not sit in that Committee. If I am contributing like this, maybe they will be interested in investigating why these people are sad instead of celebrating the Command Agriculture Programme.

Mr. President, the Government last year in August evoked the plan of 1947 which the people of the area fought and won at independence when the colonial masters had a pact wanting to remove them from that area.  Now, we are surprised as the people of that area why the Government could be fulfilling the programme of the colonial era because of the rains we should be celebrating.  Last year there were too much rains and these people had no fields and grazing area. 

Mr. President, I raise this because we want to have peace in this country and we want our Committee which deals with the theme, which is the Thematic Committee on Peace and Security to look into this issue.  If you respect the culture of a people and its identity, then the same people respect you.  These people are in Matabeleland in Matopo where they are affected.  Now, as we celebrate and carry out the livestock, fisheries and other programmes, where are they going to access and use the seeds or the livestock because they do not have the grazing area as we speak?

The rights of these people were greatly violated - rights to food.  As you harvest you must know that maybe you donate...

*HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA:  On a point of order Mr. President.  I think the Hon. Member has deviated from the motion.  I think she should focus on the report on Command Agriculture and also Command Agriculture is voluntary.  Thank you.

*THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  Let me clarify that issue because I once raised it and sought clarity on the period that she is referring to.  That is when she then explained that there are others that are not happy about the Command Agriculture Programme.  So, that is where she took it from and is continuing on that note.

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  Thank you Mr. President.  You know very well that if you do not stay in a certain area, you do not feel what the people are feeling there.  These people - that is what they feel because in August, it was preparation for the October that you are talking about.  So, if you take my field in August, then how can I access it in October?  It is very difficult that I access it in October when you take my field in August.

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  Address the Chair.

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  Mr. President, I thank you for putting me in line.  It is very painful to be a neighbour of a person who does not have food when you have food; even celebrating having tonnes and tonnes, but your neighbours having nothing.  Your celebration is just in vain.  You cannot celebrate having food when other people do not have anything.

Mr. President, we must be able to feel what the other people are feeling.  We must not discriminate that because these people are from Matabeleland and you do not want to feel for them because you are from a different province.

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  That is not the issue, no.  I do not believe that is the issue.

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  That is the issue Mr. President, thank you very much.  In Section 72 (123) of our Constitution, it states exactly how land can be acquired by Government and it even states that the people are not supposed to be paid for land, but they are paid for the developments that they make in a certain area.  So, for the developments that these people have made since 1912 to date - how many years is that?  Nothing has been promised to them that they are going to be paid for the developments that they made.  At the same time, how then do they participate in the current programmes if they do not have the land? 

To add on to that Mr. President, to put the excavators on the farms and even just remove the graves makes people not have peace.  So, I am imploring the Peace and Security Committee to visit the area and investigate.

HON. SEN. CHIPANGA:  On a point of order, Mr. President.

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  That, I will allow because there are certain issues that are now creeping in.

HON. SEN. CHIPANGA:  Whilst I agree entirely with the sentiments of the Hon. Member, I feel this is a different issue which should be addressed differently.  We are talking about a report on Command Agriculture.  To try and twist that report so that we can fit in another issue, which in my view requires its own time and its own heading, I do not think we are doing any service to the movers of the motion.

Mr. President, I hear what the Hon. Member is saying, I hear the sentiments she is expressing, I hear the tribal connotation that is being imputed in this debate, but I do not think that is worthwhile.  I thank you.

THE ACTING PRSIDENT OF THE SENATE:  May you wind up your debate please.

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  Mr. President, in the contribution that I am making as we celebrate the success of the Command Agriculture Programme, in other areas which are stated by the report - I think that is why we bring a report to the Parliament to have the debates by those who do not sit in the Committee and also for people to express their views, from the areas they come from where the Committee might not have visited. 

          I would like you to know that with the one hectare that I have, since I said I am part of the Antelope Irrigation Scheme, not the ARDA Trek, because there is a section where there are individuals.  – [HON. SENATORS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT: Order, order please! Let her wind up her debate.

          HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA: I have entered my name for the Command Wheat Programme that is being rolled out now.  What I can witness is that the seed, like Hon. Sen. Timveos said, needs proper planning.  We also need to take the views of the people that are in it.  The seed for one hectare, a member was given a credit for 100 kg of seed, which is not enough.  It is not enough because I, for the same piece of land - I have to buy another 120 kg in order to make sure that the seed was enough for that one hectare.

          I am also happy that, I was told last week that the fertilizer has arrived.  I think maybe for wheat for the Antelope Irrigation Scheme is going to be better if they get that fertiliser on time.  Maybe they might celebrate like the other areas who are celebrating.  I know it is difficult at times when we have to share our experiences and some people do not accept the truth and the experiences of other people.  They also do not accept to solve the fate of other people.

          As we move to the next phase of Command Livestock and Fisheries, Mr. President, I wish that these 60 households that I talked about can be looked into and be given land, so that at least they form part of the people who are celebrating, because they were reduced to nothing.  Bathathelwa ubuntu babo because if a person takes away lapho othembekhona it is like usathathelwe ubuntu bakho and it must not be done – the thing that is affecting them most is I am sharing with you and I want you to feel for these people, it was not done in a manner where people sit down and be told nicely.  It was done in a Gukurahundi style.  That is how it was done, where when you have powers, you exercise more powers to the defenceless people.  That is the thing.  I thank you.

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: Order, order, that is now out of order.  You are repeating yourself.

          *HON. SEN. GOTO: Thank you Mr. President.  I would like to thank you for affording me the opportunity to add a few words on the debate.  I would also want to thank the Committee on Peace and Security that did quite a splendid job.  I listened as they presented their report and I realised that it was an eye opener.  Even if you were not engaged in farming, once you heard that report, it would encourage you to start farming.  I lost my crop but I am happy that as people debate, it gives me hope.

          Command Farming has taken us out of poverty.  For those who are into farming, you would not even believe that you were going to be able to get such yields.  When you hear people saying that poverty is a curse, it is very true.  I think the Command Agriculture Programme was a success.  When I heard people saying that you need to appease the spirits to get enough rainfall, it is true.  It happened, the chiefs took it up to appease the spirits and there was a lot of rainfall.  I would like to thank the Government for all that has happened, as well as for the inputs that they availed for Command Agriculture. 

          Everyone who was under the Command Agriculture Scheme did well. For all those who are engaged in farming, in terms of food security, we are all secure.  Even if the person failed to get surplus to sell, but food security for the family is there.

          The challenges that we are facing as people under Command Agriculture is that firstly the way we were accessing input – we gave our grievances that these should be brought to district.  For those people in the Peace and Security Committee, inputs should come to districts instead of people going to province for inputs. With the fuel that you were given, you would use it for transport to get input instead of using it on the farm.  This is a learning phase but as we get into the second phase, I think it is going to be more successful, because we have realised the challenges and we are going to address them.

          It is true that the inputs came in short supply but they would all come, but at different times.  I want to emphasise the point that was mentioned that inputs should come at the same time so that you plant your seed well.  They should come at the same time so that everything is done at one go, than for us to say, ‘I got the seed but got the fertilizer late, that is why I did not produce good yield’.  I would like to thank the Peace and Security Committee that went on a tour and what they saw was true and real, not hearsay.

          I also would like to request for equipment.  After doing such farming, you cannot harvest using human labour.  So, the combine harvesters should be for the area, not individuals.  If a person has his own combine harvester, they charge exorbitant hiring fees such as $100.00 per hectare.  Probably if you go to the Command office, the hiring amount is much less.  Some of us did not even have the combine harvester.  When the maize overstayed on the field, that is when jealous crops up and veld fires are set to destroy our crops.

          The farmers with tractors should have them well serviced.  It is a challenge that we met as farmers.  You would find that you have the mechanical challenges of the tractor thereby delaying the time for us to engage in the actual farming.  Those without tractors should be availed tractors through loans.  We also want security in terms of fences because of the late harvesting, cattle from other areas stray into our fields and destroy our maize.  Command Livestock is coming in and it is more productive than maize.  It is a good project, but it requires one who is into farming to produce food to feed the livestock.  With cattle you can go to Koala or any other abattoirs.  As Command Agriculture farmers, you should bear with us.  As we speak right now, we are still harvesting and preparation is almost due for October, but the inputs have not yet come.  We are still harvesting and wheat has to be planted.  The Committee’s report has been an eye opener.  You have given us an opportunity to debate. You can ask a question - it cannot be addressed, but you have given us the opportunity to air our views. 

In Mashonaland East, there is a challenge because others do not even have transport, especially the research extension officers.  They should be on the ground.  Whether I am ploughing wheat, maize or whatever, the irrigation command should be monitored by the research extension officer.  On the soil tests that have been mentioned before, I support the Hon. Member who said that the soils are different and therefore require different seeds.  You end up getting the wrong seed and that seed will not be conducive for the soil in your area.  Thank you Mr. President for affording me the time to debate on Command Agriculture and thank you Hon. Sen. Mumvuri for the report that you tabled in this House, together with your Committee.  May you remain united.  No-one was disadvantaged.  Everyone is open to Command Agriculture.  It is voluntary. Farms are not for men only.  Everyone is eligible for a farm and Command Agriculture.  Let us take up the project and run with it.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. MAKORE:  Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to say a few words on Command Agriculture.  I am also a member of the Thematic Committee on Peace and Security. 

Firstly, I would like to thank the Committee and the Chairperson, Hon. Sen. Mumvuri and the seconder of the motion that is before us in this House.  The aim of this Committee was achieved because it had the objective of checking whether our silos and GMBs state of preparedness to get the grain …

*THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  There is someone with a Mercedes Benz with a number plate ZAKA 1….

*HON. SEN. MARAVA:  It is Hon. Chakona’s.

* THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  Thank you.

*HON. SEN. MAKORE:  The first objective was to access the preparedness of GMB and silos in terms of receiving the maize. 

Secondly, we wanted to assess to what extent the farmers had engaged in farming. 

The third objective was to check the challenges that the farmers met.  This was done after realising that before we had experienced drought and hunger.  So this project was to try and address the issue of food security in our country in order for us to go back to be the bread-basket of Africa.

It is true that in the past years in South Africa, Malawi and Zambia there was hunger, although they were engaged in farming.  This is also included in our report.  The other challenge that was noted was that in farming, our yields were very low.  We could get 400 or 500 thousand metric tonnes, yet we had the capacity to produce 1 800 000 metric tonnes.

The other challenge farmers faced was that they did not have the skills.  They were also not getting adequate financial support from the banks.  This challenge resulted in the shortage of inputs.  We want to thank the Command Agriculture Project that injected $500 million to alleviate the burden of the shortages that farmers previously faced in terms of inputs.  We also want to challenge those who benefited to pay back the loan so that it becomes a revolving fund.  If it does not revolve, it will affect production.

I want to thank the Committee for the tour they embarked on.  We were able to experience and witness the challenges that people faced.  However, these were minimal and such challenges included late delivery of inputs as others have already alluded to.  In most areas even though they failed to get the type of seed that they wanted that are conducive for their soils – I know that farmers like myself use seed 727.  That type of seed is wanted by everyone.  We have heard that it was not available. Even though that was the case, I wish to say that this project was a good initiative because most people got high yields. The expected yield is said to be above 2 million metric tonnes nation-wide, which by far surpassed our expectations of 1.8 million metric tonnes. 

I want to urge the farmers and remind them that farming is a form of business.  To those who were successful farmers this year, I say congratulations because the money that they will make is quite a lot.  I calculated it after one farmer informed me that he is getting more than a million tonnes – I was shocked when I calculated it at $390 per tonne.  I want to appreciate such encouragement and as was said in the report, as we witnessed and as we proceed with this project, by September everything will be in place. 

Most of the issues have already been debated by others but I want to urge the farmers, even those who are not engaged in farming to take up farming. Our nation is blessed with very fertile soils.  It is only that in areas where there is no irrigation, there is need to intensify the process of setting up irrigation schemes.  Mr. President, our soils need to be tested to assess their fertility but as we speak and evaluate the project, it successfully achieved its objectives, because our major objective is that of food security, which is one of the clusters in ZIM ASSET; our economic blueprint.  At least if we are able to produce our own food, it helps us to save up to more than $200 million that we were using to import food from other countries.  We have scored highly.

Since we have been able to score very highly, it is befitting that imported maize should be banned.  It had become a form of business because it was being accessed at lower prices and sold at higher prices.  We thank the Government for banning the importation of maize and this is to say that what we have is sufficient for us.  This is just the first stage of the project that we have tested and it has proved good.  Though it is good, we also meet challenges that we feel should be addressed as we proceed. 

In future, if inputs are distributed on time and everything is done on time, we will most likely get even higher yields than what we got this year.  I appreciate the challenges that have been faced but the project is a first of its kind.  Challenges are bound to be faced, but they can be addressed. It is a learning curve, but combined harvesters and pivots are required; that should be given attention.  I want to thank you Mr. President.  I could not resist adding such sweet words on this good successful project.   I thank you.

HON. SEN. MARAVA: I also want to thank my Chairman, who did a tremendous job, and whose leadership is second to none.  We are led ably by Hon. Sen. Mumvuri in the Peace and Security Committee. 

There is one thing that everybody seems to be missing here and I am happy to mention it.  Before we can celebrate Command Agriculture, Command this and that, I think we must celebrate the Almighty, the Lord God who provided us with enough rains to plant and then we can always follow our instincts and capabilities on a platform that has been provided by God.  We should thank God that again, the whole of SADC region got enough rains so much that even the markets to export to are going to be a problem for us.  We thank God again that for the first time, we are going to have enough food for ourselves as Zimbabwe.  We have not had enough food for ourselves for the last decade and not to command agriculture. 

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  Hold it that way.

*HON. SEN. MARAVA:  Mr. President, I will not stand in the way of the President’s advice but the topic is always greater than the body so, the topic is God and the topic that has enabled it to happen, whatever we are talking about is God.  We are also happy that the team that visited the few who are under command agriculture, have brought us this eye opening chapter and we are happy about that.  Again, it is too early to celebrate.  You cannot celebrate an experiment which has taken only one season, it is only one season old.  While it is a good thing, we should wait for at least 4 to 5 years to celebrate it.  At the same time, command agriculture…

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: Address the Chair please.

 *HON. SEN. MARAVA:  I am addressing the Chair Mr. President. It is not only in Zimbabwe where command agriculture has been practiced, it is also practiced somewhere in Europe and other areas but at the same time, all those countries bordering us do not practice command agriculture.  When Zimbabwe was a bread basket or referred to as a bread basket in the past years, it did not become titled to bread basket because of command agriculture, it was not so.  We were the bread basket of Africa long before we talked of command agriculture. So, this is not a new thing in Zimbabwe, a bumper harvest is not a new thing at all. 

          Mr. President, I want to say, we are forgetting one thing that the rural folk in this country knows nothing about command agriculture.  They have not been included at all and at the same time, they produce more than the commercial farmer.  The rural peasant farmer produces more that the commercial in this country and they have not been included in this.  By inclusion, I mean teams and teams should have been send out to educate them, to encourage them and to show them the benefits and disadvantages of command agriculture. Nothing of that sort was done and here we are talking of those who own thousands of hectares and got hundreds of tractors.  It is obvious that having been armed with such instruments, definitely you have to produce.  Our country’s population, 70% is rural based and not commercial based. 

          Mr. President, command agriculture sweet as it sounds, good as is seen, must be national it is not supposed to be regional.  The way we look at it right now at this experimental stage it is just regional, we are just talking of command agriculture in Mashonaland, nothing in Matabeleland, nothing in Masvingo and nothing in Midlands.  So please, let it be national and not regional because it is a good thing and we are all nationals and we like it.

          HON. SEN. MASUKU: On a point of order Mr. President.

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  What is your point of order?

          HON. SEN. MASUKU: Mr. President my point of order is that where I come from, command agriculture is there. He must stop saying it is not national.

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: Thank you Hon. Sen. Masuku for that point of order and I wish the other people and other regions in Masvingo could also stand up and state that it is there because you are misleading the Senate now because we know it is there, whether it has failed Masvingo or whatever but it is national.

          HON. SEN. MARAVA:  Thank you Mr. President, your word is final. I was actually referring to places that I know of and in most of those places, there is nothing and that is why I actually asked if teams could be send to go and encourage and educate the rural peasants.   Mr. President, honestly, to celebrate, we must but I think not now but later after we have weaned this thing because right now it is a suckling calf, it is one season old and it is still a baby that is still a suckling.  Once we have tasted it after weaning it from the mother who happens to be the State, like we said, it is business and after weaning the command agriculture, people will be standing on their own feet, then we will definitely celebrate.

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  Just make sure that we are clear on what we are debating.  We are debating the 2016 and celebrating the 2016/2017 crop season that has been a success and that is agreed.  For the future planning and something else, we need to plan as you said and other speakers who spoke before you said.

HON. SEN. MASUKU: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. MARAVA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 1st August, 2017

On the motion of HON. SEN. MASUKU seconded by HON. SEN. MARAVA, the Senate adjourned at Twenty One Minutes past Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 1st August, 2017.

 

 

 

Senate Hansard SENATE HANSARD 27 JULY 2017 VOL 26 NO 74