GOVERNMENT agriculture support programmes including Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme are national safety net interventions in lieu of monetary pay-outs found in other countries, a Cabinet minister has said.
Addressing farmers in Chakari while handing over maize and cotton inputs last week, Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri said while acting as a buffer against hunger, the programmes help boost Zimbabwe’s food reserves.
He said the programmes also act as an empowerment tool that will eventually see people moving out of poverty.
Minister Shiri said the programme was for all Zimbabweans.
“The Presidential Inputs Scheme and Command Agriculture programme are programmes targeting every household in the rural areas and A1 farmers among others,” he said.
“The inputs are there and they are available for every Zimbabwean. It’s a Government programme and that is why you did not hear me make a slogan. Everyone is eligible.”
Minister Shiri said hunger does not discriminate on the basis of political affiliation.
In some countries, said Minister Shiri, people are given monthly payouts but Government has decided to empower its people so that they also participate in the development of the country.
“We give inputs for free to communities so that they can produce for their families and sell the surplus,” he said.
“Is this not a welfare programme? In Government’s wisdom, people get inputs instead of money because of the attendant social problems like misuse that may arise. In some countries people get money.”
The United States of America has at least 13 safety net programmes targeting low-income earners covering food and housing.
Welfare programmes consumed more than $950 billion in 2016 with projected increased allocations each fiscal year.
The Presidential Inputs Scheme is this season targeting 1,8 million smallholder farmers and has been expanded to include crops such as cotton, soyabeans and vegetables among others.
Minister Shiri said Government had moved to distribute inputs early so that farmers have enough time to prepare which will lead to improved yields. Under the programme each household gets 10kg seed maize, 5kg sorghum seed, 50kg basal fertiliser (Compound D) and 50kg top dressing fertiliser.
Farmers will also get 10kg soyabeans seed, sugar beans and cow peas to address nutritional household needs.
The minister said Government support programmes would come to an end one day and farmers need to invest so that they can stand on their own.