via Made remains non-existent – DailyNews Live 17 MARCH 2014
Agriculture minister Joseph Made remains clueless on turning around fortunes of the agriculture sector, 14 years after being handed the portfolio.
For the past few years, Made has blamed economic sanctions, lack of funding and perennial droughts over the sector’s failure to grow enough crops to feed the whole nation.
However, following the good rains the country has received during the current season, Made this week predicted a “bumper harvest” arguing that Zimbabwe will have the highest yield in recent years close to the 1980s level.
Nobody knows where Made is getting his facts and we have every reason to doubt him. He has misled the nation before.
This is the same man, who several years ago, took a helicopter trip around the country, viewed green trees and on that basis declared the country was about to enjoy a bumper maize harvest.
The maize deficit that resulted and has continued every year since then earned Made much scorn and derision. A senior official in the Agriculture ministry recently said Zimbabwe is likely to experience another poor harvest as government dismally failed to support small holder farmers that it intended to support.
In the current season, government intended to supply 81 000 metric tonnes of compound D fertiliser but only 47 percent of that was availed to farmers.
This came to 37 755 metric tonnes. Only 43 percent of the 80 000 tonnes of top dressing was made available to farmers.
Made annually perpetuates inaccuracies regarding crop production, and endangers the nation with fictitious crop output forecasts that have tragic consequences.
The former chief executive of the embattled Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) has churned out a plethora of pathetic excuses, laughable half-truths, outrageous misrepresentations and catastrophic lies about the status of Zimbabwe’s agriculture for over a decade.
What is surprising is that despite all his perennial miscalculations, misleading, and mismanaging the ministry, President Robert Mugabe continues to trust him — at the expense of the country.
To cover his farm manager’s shortcomings, Mugabe saw it fit to give Made two deputies — Paddy Zhanda and Davis Marapira — to handhold the minister at the expense of tax-payers’ money.
The agricultural sector, which used to be the backbone of this economy, has been in free-fall over the past 14 years as government implemented its arbitrary and chaotic land reform programme.
The programme has brought the formerly vibrant commercial agricultural sector to the edge of ruin as manifested through acute food shortages.
According to agriculture experts, production in general has tumbled by over 70 percent over the past decade with areas planted being drastically reduced.
The sector, which has the capacity to employ millions of Zimbabweans and can contribute over 30 percent to the country’s gross domestic product, remains in the intensive care unit thanks to Made’s inefficiencies and cluelessness.
The Agriculture minister — who has helplessly watched as new farmers continue to destroy Zimbabwe’s pride as the bread basket of the region — is floating and also does not know how to handle the key post but for some strange reasons Mugabe seems to have confidence in him.
The greatest undoing is the nationalisation of land by government under the unbankable 99-year leases, which farmers cannot use as collateral in securing loans from banks.
Farmers have no capacity to borrow and the uncertainty surrounding the land they have due to lack of title deeds, has compounded serious investment in the sector.
Zimbabwe which once exported food and was southern Africa’s bread basket is now a regional basket case. It’s actually a shame that a country like ours, with good arable land and ideal climatic conditions, continues to experience food shortages.
Last year, the country had to buy more than 300 000 tonnes of maize from South Africa and Zambia to avert food shortages, with the World Food Programme estimating that more than 2,2 million people are facing hunger.
Despite these imports, shortages of essential food stuffs continued and the country’s hospitals are full of children with starvation-related diseases such as kwashiorkor as one in four children below the age of five are malnourished.
Since Made took over the agriculture portfolio livestock production has tumbled to unprecedented levels.
Zimbabwe’s cattle herd declined from nearly seven million before the onset of the government’s land seizure drive in 2000, to just less than five million currently.
The sector used to provide employment for many but after the land reform programme, hundreds of thousands lost their jobs while at least one million people were displaced.
Justice for Agriculture Trust estimates that there were between 1,3 and 1,9 million farm labourers before the land reform programme.
We have a lot of brilliant people and seasoned farmers in Zimbabwe who can assist in turning around the fortunes of the agriculture sector.
It is our view that Made should either be fired or humbly resign, for the sake of agriculture, the economy and the people of Zimbabwe.