Input subsidies the way to go


AGRICULTURE is the mainstay of Zimbabwe’s economy and it is incumbent upon the Government that farmers at all levels are given assistance in one form or the other.
One of the outstanding shortfalls of the Inclusive Government was the reluctance by the MDC-T Finance Minister Tendai Biti to fund agriculture.
This was by design for the main reason why Europe and America imposed sanctions on us at the behest of Britain was to cripple our agriculture.
And we all know the MDC is the point man of the West’s evil sanctions alliance.
So thorough was Biti’s strategy to discourage farmers that he even withheld cash to the Grain Marketing Board owed to those who had delivered their produce.
The overall aim was to show the world that blacks could not use the land profitably following the Land Reform Programme.
The argument of the whites was that blacks had claimed the land which they could not use.
A recent research based on outdated data by a coalition that included NGOs, puts the number of people at risk of starvation in Zimbabwe at 2,2 million.
Elsewhere in this issue, Professor Scoones points out the unreliability of the sampling frame.
The professor hits the nail on the head when he says:
“The 2,2 million figure is a good flag-waving number for the World Food Programme to raise funds, and for the Commercial Farmers Union to bash the Government for the land reform …”
So you see these people can do anything to try to prove that minus whites from the land there will be no meaningful agriculture.
They want us to believe that they introduced agriculture in this country in the same way they want us to believe David Livingstone ‘discovered’ the Victoria Falls.
But it is a given that agriculture was already thriving in the country before the colonial era.
Even when whites awarded themselves huge chunks of land, which they had usurped from the indigenes, they used the crops and animals sustaining the blacks as their starting point.
Although they were given soft loans and productive land, they concentrated on commercial agriculture, living the blacks who farmed on arid land to provide 70 percent of the country’s grain requirements.
Moreover, on those commercial farms it was the blacks whose labour that made those farms flourish.
So when land was given to the blacks after the Land Reform Programme the indigenes found themselves on familiar terrain.
As has already been proved so far, blacks are holding their own despite battling against obstacles created by economic sanctions and vagaries of the weather.
Already black commercial farmers are getting just as much as white commercial farmers were getting from tobacco.
The only major difference is that wealth that was being shared by 4 000 white farmers is now being shared by 400 000 households.
With the ZANU PF Government now in power, we are expecting an agricultural renaissance, as the revolutionary party’s manifesto clearly spells out its desire to assist farmers.
Already, the Government has pledged substantial cash to assist small-scale farmers with inputs.
We expect banks to come up with more favourable terms for those who want to borrow money.
We are particularly pleased with Minister Made’s revelation that as from the next farming season Government will resort to subsidies as opposed to the present direct input support.
Subsidies and comprehensive insurance are the way to go.
Of course we don’t yet expect our Government to set aside US$10 to US$30 billion a year on subsidies like what the US Department of Agriculture does.
However, the principle that farmers have to be protected remains paramount.


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