Government has concluded a US$30 million input deal with agricultural input suppliers after the realisation that Finance Minister, Tendai Biti is holding onto US$45 million from treasury to subsidise small scale farmers ahead of the 2011/ 2012 season.In a move meant to cushion small scale farmers reeling under funding constraints, US$20 million will go towards the procurement of fertiliser and US$10 million to seed companies for distribution to small scale farmers across the country.
Chemplex Chief Executive, Mr Mishek Kachere confirmed that the deal has been finalised with the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development and delivery to the Grain Marketing Board should start without delays.
“We are going to supply the GMB depots starting now. We have not been paid and that will happen once we deliver the fertiliser, and hopefully by December, we would have supplied 30 000 tonnes of fertiliser required,” Mr Kachere said.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union executive director, Mr Paul Zachariya said while farmers welcome the new deal, lack of policy fulfilment on the part of Mr Biti is letting down the agricultural sector which is the mainstay of the economy, accounting for an annual 30% of the Gross Domestic Product.
Observers say it is high time Minister Biti was reprimanded by the principals to the Global Political Agreement for his arrogant stance of holding the country at ransom.
Last week, the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe also blasted Mr. Biti for sabotaging the farming sector by continuing to hold onto funds meant for national strategic programmes while preferring to prioritise luxuries such as the recent acquisition of latest model vehicles.