The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development has expressed concern that agriculture training institutions could be producing half backed graduates due to budgetary constraints and lack of farming equipment.

This came out during the committee’s recent visit to Esigodini Agricultural College, which is not only key in training students in agriculture but also a strategic institution for communal farmers in the area.

However, a report to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee painted a picture that is at odds with how the agricultural institution should be operating .

“Shortage of agricultural equipment, vehicles to assess students on attachment , inadequate water supplies and poor funding have seen best practices at the institution being compromised,” Esigodini Agricultural College Acting Principal, Ms Fungai Moyo said.

Chairperson of the committee, Cde Christopher Chitindi and Norton legislator, Mr Temba Mliswa stressed the importance of adequately funding agricultural training institutions given their importance in contributing to better fortunes of Zimbabwe’s agro-based economy .

Umzingwane legislator, Cde William Dewa weighed in saying Esigodini Agricultural College which has a bias towards animal husbandry is key to the Matabeleland region if the country is to rebuild its national herd .

The committee also visited Lindnill farm in Umzingwane where five hectares of the maize crop was planted under the command agriculture programme .

Meanwhile, the committee says early disbursement of inputs under the Command Agriculture Programme next season will improve yield and ensure the country becomes self sufficient.

Speaking in Masvingo, Cde Chitindi said during their countrywide assessment of the Command Agriculture Programme, they met farmers contracted under the command agriculture who called for early disbursement of inputs in the next phase of the programme.

“In all the provinces we have gone through , the major challenge has been the late disbursement of inputs to farmers and also inadequate supply. Things must improve next season so that our production levels will be better than this year,” he added.

Though the initial phase of the Command Agriculture Programme faced some hiccups, farmers are expected to exceed the anticipated yields.

The government is also on a major drive to revive all defunct irrigation schemes, a move meant to ensure that the country produces enough food and stop relying on imports.