MIDLANDS BUREAU CHIEF
SILOBELA-Unmaintained roads linking Silobela to Kwekwe and Nkayi are costing small-scale farmers whose agricultural produce is rotting away before they get transport.
The farmers told Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development Minister Anxious Masuka that the roads are impassable, resulting in high transport costs attributed to losses recorded by irrigation schemes.
Masuka was in Silobela recently, where he commissioned the Exchange Irrigation Scheme.
Scheme vice chairperson Patric Chipoka pleaded with Masuka to have responsible authorities attend the roads. He also said expecting mothers and the ill are failing to access medical facilities in due time owing to bad roads.
“Our agricultural products are rotting in our homes because we fail to reach marketplaces due to bad roads. Most of our roads are not usable.
“Expecting mothers and ill people are failing to access primary health care centres in time due to the roads. We told our Member of Parliament (MP) Makoni Mpofu about the problem, but nothing was done.
“We are now taking this opportunity to appeal to Government and responsible authorities to come to our rescue so that we can be able to sell our agricultural products without constraints,” said Chipoka.
Masuka tasked the local authority, Zivagwe Rural District Council (RDC), to use devolution funds to rehabilitate the road network.
“Through the devolution program, Government has decentralized funds, and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has allocated five per cent of the money to all the ten provinces.
“I am sure that all the 92 councils across the country have received their devolution funds which they should utilize in road rehabilitation,” he said.
The scheme received a tractor from Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) and inputs from the presidential irrigation scheme.
Masuka urged farmers at irrigation schemes across the country to work in blocks and collectively earn dividends.
He said farmers who work as blocks will have an advantage of receiving inputs.
“As a Ministry, we encourage smallholder farmers at irrigation schemes to start working in blocks and to plant the same types of crop at the same time to enable pest control and get good harvests.
“This irrigation scheme has been given a tractor through the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) to help farmers during planting. Government has also provided inputs for the farmers who should plant the same type of crop on the same day,” he said.