Dealers are going out to rural areas offering to buy farming inputs that were distributed for free to communal farmers by the government as fears of the much spoken about El-nino-induced drought pervade the country.
Many communal farmers that are being discouraged by the long stretch of scorching heat between November and December rushed to sell their seed and fertilisers for a song.
Most farmers across the country have written off this agricultural season because of the predicted El-nino induced weather phenomenon.
They have become the target of dealers, who take away the presidential farming inputs for resale in urban areas.
The presidential farming inputs have now flooded several markets in Harare and other cities, with their packaging clearly marked as such.
Police spokesperson assistant commissioner Paul Nyathi said police have arrested some of the unscrupulous dealers buying the inputs from rural farmers.
Nyathi said police last week arrested a Harare man who was caught in unlawful possession of presidential inputs comprising 30 x 50kg of Compound D fertiliser.
The suspect, Leonard Murwadzi (34), was nabbed at a security roadblock at the 160km peg along the Harare-Mukumbura road.
“Investigations by the police established that the suspect bought the fertilisers in Mukumbura,” Nyathi said. “Investigations are in progress to account for the suspects, who sold the fertilisers.”
Nyathi said they had so far arrested more than 30 people who were caught selling the presidential inputs.
The government says it has since mobilised over 360 000 tonnes of agricultural inputs, including seed and fertiliser, to support smallholder farmers under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa, a climate proof agricultural programme.
According to weather experts, this year’s cropping season will likely be affected by the El-nino weather phenomenon, which typically leads to delayed and below-normal rainfall.
Government is targeting cereal production of 3 512 658 tonnes – 2,8 million tonnes of maize and 712 658 tonnes of traditional grains and oil seeds – to meet the country’s human consumption requirements.
The country needs about 2,2 million tonnes of grains annually.
Over 100 tonnes of fertiliser meant to be distributed under the presidential inputs programme have been recovered from corrupt Lands ministry officials as authorities intensify efforts to curb misappropriation of inputs by unscrupulous individuals.