via Govt backtracks on bumper harvest claim 27/03/2014 NewZimbabwe
AGRICULTURE Minister, Joseph Made, declined Wednesday to confirm his earlier claim that the country, facing food shortages after a poor harvest last season, would receive a bumper harvest this year.
The minister was recently accused of lying by a Zanu PF legislator after he claimed that Zimbabwe, currently said to require food aid for some two million people, was set for a bumber crop.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo told journalists following a marathon party politburo meeting that Made had not said the country would achieve a bumper harvest.
“The Agriculture Minister (Made) gave the politburo a comprehensive report on the state of agriculture in the country and the possible harvest the country should expect. He did not say bumper harvest but he said it will be better than previous years,” Gumbo said.
Made has come under fire following media reports that he had claimed the country was set for a bumper harvest after years of persistent droughts.
“The massive increase in hectarage and the anticipated high production even had His Excellency (President Robert Mugabe) making reference that the crop looks like what it was in 1980, 81 thereabouts,” Made was recently reported as saying.
“It is the same strategy of people first that saw us achieving food self-sufficiency in the 1980’s that was adopted this season and certainly we should not go wrong when the second assessment report showing the yield and production figures.”
“We have heard from the media that we will have a bumper harvest this season. In Mashonaland West 90 000 hectares worth of seed, 40 000 hectares worth of Compound D, and 25 000 hectares worth of Ammonium Nitrate was given to farmers.
“What criteria did they use to conclude that we’ll have a bumper harvest? In the previous years we have been told that there is a bumper harvest which never proved true?” Mliswa queried.
The legislator claimed research and extension officers across the country and, in particular, in his constituency did not have adequate transport hence it was questionable to conclude there would be a bumper harvest before the ministry has conducted field visits.
However, the acerbic Mliswa was later ordered by acting Speaker Rueben Marumahoko to withdraw the use of the word “lied” as the term was adjudged to be offensive.
According to official statistics, at least 2.2 million Zimbabweans face starvation and with no sign that the famine that has stalked the country’s mainly rural populace might see positive change in cereal production for the first time since the turn of the century.
Erratic rains and a haphazard and often violent land reform programme that Mugabe spearheaded did not help the situation with massive disruption on production on the country’s economic backbone.