Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Owen Ncube has warned farmers against the temptation of selling off inputs availed to them under the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme, as that would attract prosecution.
Ncube said the inputs should be properly used to increase agricultural productivity to enhance food security in the country.
“All farmers should make good use of these inputs in the fields and not in the market,” Ncube said late last week at the launch of the scheme for the Midlands province at Mazvihwa village, Zvishavane.
“If you are caught selling these inputs, definitely you will be prosecuted.”
He said the scheme was meant to enable smallholder farmers to become self-sufficient as well as address nutritional requirements at household level.
Ncube said each farmer was going to get a 50kg bag of Ammonium Nitrate, a 50kg bag of Compound D and 10kg of seed maize.
He also said the scheme included inputs for vegetables such as soya beans, sugar beans, cow peas, cabbages, carrots and rape.
“The cotton input package has also been added in the scheme,” he said.
The Provincial Affairs minister said climate change was negatively impacting agricultural productivity and government was working on initiatives such as irrigation schemes to mitigate against such challenges.
In Matabeleland South province, over 600 000 households are expected to benefit from the programme.
The scheme was also launched in Mashonaland East province in Goromonzi South constituency’s ward 18, where 3 280 families are set to benefit.
During former President Robert Mugabe’s era, the presidential inputs scheme had become a feeding trough for many, with beneficiaries selling off the inputs and lining up their pockets rather than investing in agricultural production.
There has also been concerns that the timing of the scheme’s launch was meant to buoy President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s chances of winning the July 30 harmonised polls, as the programme was traditionally rolled out towards the beginning of the rainy season every year.
When the scheme was launched in Mashonaland Central early this month, Mnangagwa attributed the early roll-out to what he described as his team’s diligence.
“We are in July and you usually received inputs between October and November. Early distribution of Presidential inputs is due to hard work from my team,” he was quoted saying.
“If you do not perform, then we can never work together.”
Meanwhile, Ncube urged people to maintain a free, fair and non-violent election environment.