THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture has expressed concern on the poor state of the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) silos in anticipation of a bumper harvest.
Source: Concern over GMB silos’ deplorable condition – NewsDay Zimbabwe November 8, 2016
BY VENERANDA LANGA
This came out during the 2017 pre-budget seminar which just ended in Bulawayo where the Christopher Chitindi-led committee said introduction of command agriculture to the tune of $150 million might result in increased yields which need good silos for storage.
“The committee is concerned over the state of the GMB silos in anticipation of a bumper harvest,” the report by the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture said.
“The country may suffer post-harvest losses due to poor conditions of the silos,” they said.
On farmers’ demands in 2017, the committee said they wanted support in terms of agricultural funding, subsidies, markets for their produce, livestock development and support in irrigation infrastructure.
In 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture was allocated $145 million out of a $3,8 billion National Budget, representing a paltry 3,8% allotment which is far below the government commitment to the Maputo Declaration which stipulates that at least 10% of the National Budget should be allocated to agriculture.
The Agriculture Portfolio Committee said although agriculture remained the major driver of the economy, 2016 was a difficult year for the sector due to the El Nino-induced drought which affected most parts of Southern Africa.
They also noted failure by the Ministry of Agriculture to come up with an agricultural policy.
“To date, there is no word regarding the finalisation of the crafting of a comprehensive agricultural policy which should include the contract farming framework, operationalisation of the Stop Order Act, and Warehouse Receipt Act, among others. In addition, new sub-policies are also being expected such as the mechanisation and irrigation policy and small grain policy, among others.”
The committee said resolving agricultural policy issues would help unlock financial opportunities and stimulate production within the sector.
“Challenges within the agricultural sector are multi-faceted and diversified to include other factors such as the cost of land, water, electricity and inputs, and a comprehensive agricultural policy,” the committee said.
In 2017, the Agriculture ministry might get a $126 million budgetary allocation, with 96% going towards recurrent expenditure and 4% going towards operational expenses.
The ministry said it would prioritise increasing productivity of crops and livestock through efficient use of inputs, pest and disease control, rehabilitation and development of irrigation infrastructure, strengthening of research and extension services, improved access to mechanisation and engineering services and improved provision and access to inputs through market-based systems.
“The major weakness observed by the committee is that all these initiatives are not supported by any documented policy, hence it is difficult to hold the ministry accountable for its programmes,” the committee report said.