MASUNGA: North East District (NED) councillors have pleaded with the government to consider compensating farmers who used the broadcast planting method this past season.
Under the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD), farmers are compensated for tillage and seeds, but only if they used the recommended row planting system. Those using the older broadcast method do not receive support under the programme.
However, in their ongoing sitting, councillors pleaded with government to recognise the special situation farmers in the district were in. The councillors said the district experienced poor rains and few farmers had managed to plough their fields, with an estimated 3,543.8 hectares under crop from 872 farmers compared to 17,000 hectares from 6,300 farmers last season.
“There will be hunger in this district this year and we are appealing to government to consider compensating farmers who ploughed through the broadcast method,” the councillors said.
Tsamaya councillor, Isaac Pelaelo said row planting was a problem to farmers, as they did not have tractors and other farming implements required for row planting.
“Farmers should have been given time to raise money to buy all the necessary ploughing equipment before the system can be introduced. “The majority of farmers failed to utilise the early rains because they were queuing for tractors which were not even enough to cover them
Themashanga councillor, Kudzani Tobokwani echoed Pelaelo’s sentiments saying with most farmers having missed this year’s ploughing season, the number of impoverished people would rise as most families were reliant on farming. He pleaded for the council’s support in lobbying government to compensate all farmers.
“People are going to die from hunger this year. There is nothing in the fields. Let’s unite as council and plead for government’s mercy on its people, “said Tobokwani.
Council vice-chairman and Gulubane councillor, Dikitso Mandevu supported his colleagues saying all farmers should all be compensated.
“Many farmers opted for broadcast planting in order to chase moisture and it is hurtful that only those who did row planting will be compensated,” he said.
For his part, NED Agricultural Coordinator, Alfred Mashungwa said government was aware that farmers opted to scatter seeds in order to seek out any available moisture. Mashungwa said councillors should have raised a motion requesting government to bend its rules, as the ministry could only implement the laid down policies.
“I have heard your request and I will present it to the Ministry (of Agriculture) but as council it’s your responsibility to react to this situation,” he said.