POLITICIANS who have been entrusted with distributing Pfumvudza farming inputs are being accused of demanding US$5 per 50kg sack as transport fee from each farmer receiving the inputs, Zim Morning Post has learnt.
This was revealed by some concerned farmers who claimed the payments had financially drained them.
“We are told that in order for us to collect the fertilizers and seed, we have to pay US$5 yet foreign currency is not accessible to everyone, especially in the rural areas,” a farmer from Guruve told Zim Morning Post on condition of anonymity.
The farmers said the charge was unreasonable as the conservation agriculture method known as Pfumvudza is a government project meant to help struggling farmers.
They also claimed that upon registering, they were never told about paying transport costs.
Farmers from Guruve accused political leaders of tarnishing the image of the project by demanding unsanctioned payments from desperate farmers.
“We do not have the money for transportation. Why can’t our government instruct the suppliers to deliver the inputs direct to us than to let our local leaders handle the transportation of these inputs?” questioned one disgruntled farmer.
Efforts to get a comment from John Basera, secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, were fruitless as his mobile number went unanswered.
Pfumvudza is a government-owned project meant to maximise productivity per unit area, even during drought periods, to ensure household and national food nutritional security.
Pfumvudza involves the full utilisation of small pieces of land, including application of the correct agronomic practices for higher returns.
The approach can be used in marginal areas and give high yields.
The initiative is one of the concepts under the Agriculture Recovery Plan being spearheaded by Government to reverse the current trends in food production.
The practice was initially introduced by the late Minister of Agriculture, Perrance Shiri, to benefit farmers in communal lands who were left out during the Command Agriculture programme.