FARMERS in Mashonaland Central province have brought to the fore pertinent issues regarding farming which has undeniably been the nation’s backbone for decades.

In a document, some of whose contents we published in our NewsDay edition yesterday in an article titled Farmers dig at Agric minister, the farmers accuse government, through the Agriculture, Water and Rural Development ministry, of neglecting the farming sector to the extent that it is affecting viability of this otherwise critical sector.

Most curious about this latest salvo from the farmers is that it comes hardly days after President Emmerson Mnangagwa “knighted” the Agriculture minister, Anxious Masuka  as the country’s best performing minister for the year 2023.

If we, for argument’s sake, replicate the challenges the Mashonaland Central province farmers are facing in all the country’s seven agricultural regions, we begin to wonder what exactly minister Masuka achieved for him to be honoured thus by President Mnangagwa.

Obviously challenges do exist in all the contry’s economic sectors, but the amount of challenges being raised by the farmers, being driver of our agro-based economy, cannot be deemed too insignificant to write home about.

Farmers continue to face late crippling payment delays for produce they deliver to the Grain Marketing Board and when they are finally paid in the local currency for part of the deliveries, the money would be so useless that it makes it difficult for them to prepare to return to the field for the next season.

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Access to water and electricity are some of the challenges making farming a nightmare for our dedicated growers, who we believe should be the Agriculture ministry’s top priority if the country wishes to achieve food self-sufficiency in the foreseeable future.

The farmers also raised the issue of the Presidential Input Scheme which has been blighted by corruption and looting ever since it was introduced, to the detriment of the farmers, which further perplexes us why the Agriculture ministry keeps sleeping on the wheel regarding this issue.

Fundamentally though, Zimbabwe continues to fail to feed itself more than 20 years after vast tracts of land were expropriated by the State from former white commercial farmers for distribution to thousands of landless indigenous farmers.

This additionally begs the question: So what great things did Masuka exactly achieve last year or in the five years he has been Agriculture minister if the country is still unable to feed itself, especially when it matters most in times of drought? Should an organised minister deserving an accolade not be seen to be prudent enough to plan for calamities, especially it being a given that the globe is in the throes of a major climate change crisis?

So it comes as surprising that a minister is being rewarded for mediocrity, which makes us ponder even further about the calibre of the rest of our government ministers if Masuka is the best on offer.

If truth be told, no minister in President Mnangagwa’s government deserves an accolade. The only fitting accolade for them should be for their penchant for failure.