Minister taken to task over Belarus tractors

Source: Minister taken to task over Belarus tractors – NewsDay Zimbabwe

Lands and Agriculture minister, Anxious Masuka

TEMPERS flared at a meeting between Lands and Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka and Kwekwe farmers who demanded transparency and accountability over the manner in which tractors from Belarus were being distributed.

In 2018, President Emmerson Mnangagwa engaged his Belarusian counterpart, President Alexander Lukashenko to support the farm mechanisation programme through farm equipment and training of local farmers in cultivation, seeding, irrigation and crop harvesting.

Lands and Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka told farmers on Monday that under the Belarus scheme 1 337 tractors will be delivered.

He said to date 900 tractors had been received under the scheme.

“We have two schemes; the first is the Belarus scheme where we got just over 500 tractors distributed through CBZ. We are now going into the second phase where we are expecting 1 337 tractors and already about 900 have arrived and the distribution again is through banks. Government no longer distributes tractors to farmers,” Masuka said.

“This is only done through the financial institution and you pay a 15% deposit in Zimbabwe dollars when you deliver your grain and then the balance is paid over three seasons through delivering grain. This system enables us to build a very strong relationship between businesspeople and financial institutions.”

Farmers would, however, have none of it and accused government of distributing the farmers unfairly.

“On the Belarus tractor scheme, our concern as businesspeople and farmers is that there is no transparency in terms of allocating these tractors. We applied through the financial institutions, but there is no acknowledgement and feedback. We only see these tractors on television where people would be gathering receiving them. What kind of mechanism are you using to allocate tractors, it’s not even transparent,” one farmer charged.

“If these tractors are really coming like what you said, the system must be transparent. As it stands now we don’t even know what’s really happening,” he

Another farmer said: “Government should decentralise the distribution of tractors to provinces. We also have fuel challenges which have crippled our farming business. We want the government to specifically allocate fuel for farmers.”

Many farmers suspect that the tractors are being allocated to government bigwigs only