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Treasury fails to release agriculture funds

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FAILURE by Treasury to release funds on time to the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development will result in missed targets and failure to pay for the strategic grain reserves.

VENERANDA LANGA
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER

Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture Ringson Chitsiko recently told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture and Resettlement that the ministry was allocated $225 529 900 for 2015, which was not enough as the ministry suffered evictions due to non- payment of rentals and other problems like immobility by agricultural extension officers.

“The ministry is currently paying large sums of money towards rentals for office and staff accommodation, causing work disruptions due to evictions,” said Chitsiko.

“The few vehicles hired are incurring charges when they are not being used due to fuel shortages, and currently the extension worker to farmer ratio is 1:600
in most areas making the issue of immobility very critical,” he said.

Chitsiko also told the committee that the ministry was facing challenges in the payment of the 500 000 metric tonnes of strategic grain reserves for both human and animal consumption, whereby only 50% of grain received in 2014 had been paid for.

Secretary for the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement Sophia Tsvakwi also appeared before the same committee and said lack of modern equipment hampered A2 farm title surveys

She said the ministry also experienced difficulties in processing 99-year leases due to inheritance problems and failure by farmers to pay the required fees.

The ministry was allocated $2 million for provision of security of tenure to farmers, but it has outstanding bills of $8 million on A2 farm title surveys.

“Some of the challenges that the ministry is facing is lack of modern survey equipment for expediting A2 farm title surveys. There are also legal and technical challenges in registering 99-year leases, as well as inheritance issues which continue to pose a lot of challenges in processing 99-year leases,” Tsvakwi said.

She said there was inadequate manpower whereby her staff establishment was only at 32% of the required personnel as well as serious shortages of vehicles.

“The minimum requirement is 300 vehicles for the ministry incorporating eight provinces, 58 district offices and vehicles for the Surveyor-General’s Department,” she said.

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