BANKET – Some Zimbabwean farmers are selling government-subsidized farm inputs on the black market, ENN reports. The development comes as the country is expecting a bumper maize harvest after receiving good rains in the 2020/2021 agricultural season.

In the 2020 farming season, eligible Zimbabwean farmers were provided with farm inputs under an agricultural input scheme financed by financial services giant CBZ Holdings.  However, an investigation conducted by a Zimbabwean publication in Mashonaland West province revealed that some of the government-funded farm inputs were being sold on the black market at very low prices. The investigation established that some farmers inflated their hectarage before diverting the extra farm inputs received to the black market for cash. Topdressing fertilizer which is retailing at US$30 a bag in Zimbabwe is being sold at US$12 on the black market and is even available for bulk deliveries over 25 tonnes.

Mashonaland West Zanu PF deputy political commissioner Godknows Murambwi confirmed that some beneficiaries of the CBZ agricultural input scheme bought luxury cars instead of using the resources to boost Zimbabwe’s agricultural production.

Zimbabwe remains confronted by corruption and political alienations on political party lines, twin evils that have dogged its economy for years as political elites are not held to account on their financial commitments until their political lights fade. These include farm input schemes, electricity and water bills, and for some, bank loans. To date, some beneficiaries of Zimbabwe’s Command Agriculture Programme (CAP) have not been made to account for their benefits, to the detriment of the tax paper. The Command Agriculture Programme was announced in August 2016, and was driven by Zimbabwean business mogul Kudakwashe Tagwirei’s Sakunda Holdings.

According to the World Bank’s 2019 reviews, Zimbabwe’s public expenditure on agriculture, particularly maize, has accounted for about 10% of GDP over the period 2016 to 2019, rising from US$173 million in 2011 to US$1.2 billion in 2017. The report further highlighted that this expenditure was directed towards the Command Agriculture Programme (CAP), the GMB subsidies and the Presidential Input Scheme (PIS). In 2017 alone, US$391 million was spent on the CAP, US$513 million on the GMB subsidies and US$125 million on the PSI, the report adds. Against this background, the latest wave of agricultural input abuses in Zimbabwe brings back memories of the country’s failed agricultural input schemes. This also puts anticipated results of Zimbabwe’s 2020 agricultural season in the spotlight as accountability remains elusive.