JThe registration on an online platform of all farmers receiving inputs under Pfumvudza/Intwasa will not only eliminate any odd points of corrupt practice, and there are unlikely to be many. given the controls already in place, but will also allow instant monitoring of productivity. , marketing and others.
From the start of the Pfumvudza/Intwasa mass program for the 2020-2021 season, when the presidential input program was enhanced to include agricultural systems as well as inputs only, corruption was largely eliminated.
Farmers had to go through basic training through Agritex, a simple process, and then prepare their plots, which involved hard work planting the seed holes.
This had to be inspected by the local Agritex agent, and the inspection would include the number of plots prepared.
So, from the start, no one received entries for simply writing a name. There were to be real dug plots and much of the program relied on the farmers who dug insisting that they received their inputs without any diversion.
And the presumption was that after they did the hard work, they were genuine and they would plant the seed, apply the fertilizer, and reap the crops.
This seems to have been largely true, although during the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission’s tours there were reports of corruption. No one stood up to say they dug their holes, but never got the inputs.
Reports tend to be more vague, that people who had not dug received inputs rather than people who deserved them.
Although details are lacking in these reports, the fact that they are believed in some places means that the distribution system must not only be working well, but also be seen to be working well.
In addition, trials are currently underway of larger-scale diversion of inputs by people more powerful than a small farmer or neighborhood-level Agritex agent.
Again, in these cases, it is important to note the word “trial”. No one is trying to hide abuse under the rug and it seems senior Agritex officers have insisted on correct procedures, even in the face of pressure from someone in power.
Checking in online, and this can be done via phone with data and hopefully some sort of mobile device carried by the service Agritex agent, creates the basic database at negligible cost .
Certification of the necessary preparation of the plot, including digging, can be added to each grower’s file, with all growers having a grower number.
Inputs can be allocated by type based on area and farmers’ wishes on optional crops, and number of plots dug.
And then the farmer must personally register his acceptance of the inputs. At this point, the distribution is exceptionally transparent and each small seed bag can be linked to a farmer.
However, the system can continue. Farmers receive additional inputs, and these are recorded, and eventually they harvest. And the crops must be seized. Currently, most records deal with what is sold, but a lot of Pfumvudza/Intwasa crops are kept on farms.
Farmers in Pfumvudza/Intwasa are expected to keep records, but much of the overview and summary of these records will now be what is entered into the online database.
A farmer who has received a lot of inputs and then has a zero harvest record obviously needs to be investigated, and unless he can show that his field was flooded by a cyclone or otherwise destroyed , he must explain to a magistrate what happened. But we don’t expect much.
Most importantly, it will now be very easy for everyone in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development to easily see productivity and yields and determine which farmers are doing well, which ones need more help and which might be cheating.
This electronic recording and tracking of farmers receiving inputs is not new.
The tobacco industry evolved after land reform from a small number of farmers on large estates and maintaining personal relationships with their banks to modern contract farming of tens of thousands of small contract farmers.
But it only really worked with the online registration used by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board and using the same system to track contracts, inputs, farmers and crops. .
By moving online and electronically, administrative costs were reduced and the whole system could operate without farmers or contractors having to see their profits disappear in overhead.
This system has built over the past two decades to become a truly useful record for much of the industry, weeding out dishonest contractors and farmers and creating the track record of those who succeed. The new government program for farmers in Pfumvudza/Intwasa can do the same.
It will be worthwhile to ensure that this system can be extended. Pfumvudza/Intwasa provides inputs for up to five plots, and many farmers are still expanding their operations to five plots.
But as more and more reach this limit, others may climb it, especially since basic mechanization begins now.
Private entrepreneurs are currently largely focused on A2 farmers, but with a decent record keeping system open to everyone, they can also venture into the smallholder sector.
Their ideal farmer will likely be someone with five Pfumvudza/Intwasa plots for two years, certified productivity and certified deliveries. If an oilseed company, for example, then wants to make a contract for three plots of sunflower, that contract and that information can be stored in the same database so that anyone who needs to know can see what’s going on. .
This kind of public-private partnerships can extend to information, and perhaps we could see private inputs being delivered with public sector inputs and Agritex officers inspecting for the benefit of all.
At this point, small-scale farming will be commercial and working well.