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Don`t warn subsidies thieves, punish them

23rd December 2011
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Editorial Cartoon

There is no doubt that our agriculture is backward because of the modes employed in production in the sector.

From the use of the hand hoe to till the land to use of low quality seeds and no fertiliser to the unreliable storage system, all contribute to making the returns from agriculture way below the efforts exerted on the job.

To till an acre of land using the hand hoe takes more time than would a simple plough or tractor and does not do such a good job. Coupled with the use of low quality seeds, the yields per acre remain low.

The crop is further threatened by pests, giving the farmer poor harvests, which are further depleted due to poor storage.

The end result is that the farmer cannot develop the capacity to invest in better farming tools, improved seeds or storage.

The national economy whose main base is agriculture cannot grow that much because of the state of the farmers and production in the sector. No wonder many young people have viewed farming as a poor option and do everything, including hawking chewing gum in towns to avoid being trapped in it.

That is why the government after initiating a number of measures to put agriculture on a growth path, came up with among other initiatives, the input subsidy scheme and Kilimo Kwanza aimed at addressing the hurdles to better farming.

It is more than four years since the subsidy scheme was launched. During the time, the snags – human and logistical – have been noted and solutions sought.

But sadly, there are still some executives and government leaders out to sabotage the scheme, notwithstanding its benefit to the majority population and the national economy.

Our attention has been drawn to the warning by the Shinyanga CCM Regional Chairman Hamis Mgeja to some government executives to stop colluding with distribution agents of cotton seeds in cheating farmers.

Indeed a few questions come to mind: Are efforts to stop theft of the input cash through collusion working? Is there a water-tight system now to ensure that the benefits reach the target group, i.e. farmers?

The warning issued in Mwanza, concerns a major cash crop –cotton on which millions of farmers depend for livelihood, just as does the economy. What is more, the fact that it was issued by a leader who is privy to efforts to stop the thefts makes us worry.

For it points to the existence of government executives bent on doing whatever it takes to sabotage the efforts to improve farmers’ productivity and contribution of the sector to the national economy.

That is why we feel that warnings no longer scare these die-hard saboteurs. President Kikwete has given very clear instructions to government and security institutions and brought in the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau on how wipe out the menace.

So it is our expectation that those entrusted with the task of plugging the loopholes that allowed the thefts, will have done their duty by this time, while those investigating and prosecuting will ensure that their work is seen to be done to restore faith to the public.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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