ZFU welcomes stricter Command Agric controls

by | Aug 31, 2021 | Business | 0 comments


Brian Rungano Temba

Farmers have have welcomed plans by Government to decisively deal with farmers who sell their grain outside conventional channels after receiving free inputs.

Since the establishment of Command Agriculture –now the National Enhanced Agriculture Productivity Scheme (NEAPS) – there have been cases of defaulters who are given subsidized inputs, but fail to remit the grain to the Grain Marketing Board for reconciliation.

Government recently announced that those who fail to repay grain loans, risk losing their farm offer letters.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union Director Mr Paul Zakariya said in the interest of continuity, farmers should be honest and diligent when dealing with contracts.

“We support this initiative, it will bring the well-meaning farmers on to the pieces of land and in turn be productive and make good use of facilities availed by government thereby growing the revolving fund instead of depleting it,” said Mr Zakariya.

He said farming should be taken as business with checks and balances.

“We are fully behind that and we are not apologetic. Other unions might have different views but when it comes to observing contracts particularly in a year when our field crops did well there is no reason anyone would default paying back the NEAPS loans,” said Mr Zakariya.

Mr Zakariya explained that there are statutory instruments that govern the movement of crop produces such as Maize, Soya Beans and Cotton and they are the law and must be abided by.

He added that grain should be sold through appropriate channels.

“This is the law, when a farmer is contracted to produce crops they must deliver as per the contract. That is how business is run. If there is any defaults then the contracts must be enforced and this is what we have been telling farmers from day one,” said Mr Zakariya.

Mr Zakariya said Government is plugging the gap left by financial institutions that are shying away from agricultural financing, and farmers should return the favour by ensuring that they do not prejudice the source of funding.

“Local banks are not providing the types of money required by farmers in accordance to our agriculture seasons. The money coming from banks is very short termed sometimes around nine months and maybe 12 months when stretched. Idealistically agriculture is supposed to be funded in terms of medium term and long term.


But the little that we have coming in in the form of inputs should not be frustrated because it should be running in a revolving fund type of setup. So if anyone defaults it means the pot is shrinking because the contents of the pot is also shrinking,” said Mr Zakariya.

He explained that when one has defaulted from paying back the NEAPS loans and consequently been removed from benefiting from the facility in the next season then the land will lie idle.

“We have many farmers in ZFU who are currently renting land and looking for land to produce on freely. They have the potential to borrow and payback. We want to put this resource (land) to good use,” added Mr Zakariya.

More than 15 000 farmers benefit from the NEAPS programme that was started in 2016 under the name Command Farming.

Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, Hon Dr Anxious Masuka said last week farmers who made a loan repayment of at least 80 percent of the2020-2021 season loan by November 30, 2021 will be considered for the 2021-2022 season NEAPS facility. Those who would have paid up their debts fully are supposed to be enlisted immediately for the 2021-2022 season.