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After the devastating drought of 1991/92 season most Zimbabwean farmers lost the whole of their crop and livestock, leaving the smallholder farming sector almost destitute, without cattle, and financial resources for the procurement of the necessary agricultural inputs. The drought had also far-reaching consequences on the whole agricultural industry and national food security. The Zimbabwean Government launched an agricultural recovery programme with various components. One of the major components was the crop pack programme which sought to assist the smallholder farmers to recover from the adverse effects of the drought through the provision of free seed, fertiliser and other necessary chemicals.
Since the inception of the programme in 1992 the Zimbabwean Government has provided nearly Z$756 million worth of inputs and ancillary services to the smallholder farmers. The assistance has been handled through the Ministry of Agriculture's operational organs, such as Agritex which has been assisted by some local institutions, such as the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union and the Rural District Councils.
The crop pack programme was found to have been essential for the recovery of the smallholder farming sector. It has also been found that the programme has considerably achieved its immediate and short-term objectives. The evaluation team discovered that the crop pack programme is open to every farmer irrespective of his/her status in the smallholder sector. The crop pack programme has made a positive contribution towards smallholder agricultural productivity and substantially increased technological adoption by smallholder farmers. The programme has also enhanced food security and self-efficiency within the smallholder farming sector.
The implementation of the crop pack programme has been beset by several problems. First, the selection of programme beneficiaries has been in some cases dictated by political expediency instead of the socio-economic requirements of farmers. Second, there has been a tendency in some seasons for the Government allocating standardised inputs regardless of the agro-ecological conditions, farmers' economic status, needs and preferences perhaps due to scarcity of financial resources and unavailability of appropriate inputs. Third, the Government has sometimes failed to timely announce the delivery of the inputs, their nature, and expected arrival dates, thereby disrupting the planning process at the household level. Fourth, some farmers, for various reasons, have not been able to collect the late and inappropriate inputs, while others who could collect these delayed seeds allocated the packs to more appropriate, viable and meaningful uses that include sale and consumption of the seeds.
It is the considered opinion of the evaluation team that the crop pack programme has largely achieved its original basic objectives. It is therefore recommended that the programme be gradually phased out. In order to enhance the efficiency of the programme during the phasing out period it is recommended that the targeting of beneficiaries be on the basis of agro ecological regional requirements and the socio-economic needs of the farmers. Finally, the evaluation team recommends that, in the interest of long-term development of the small scale farming sector, the Government should assist and facilitate the creation and operation of the smallholder farmer organisation which organises producers into viable farmers cooperatives to perform various functions.
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The accomplishment of the crop pack programme evaluation has been made possible by the assistance, co-operation and generous support of many organisations and several people.
The evaluation team would like to thank them all, especially the Ministry of Agriculture for allowing and facilitating the assignment of this study. Its guidance and support in the preparation for the evaluation and collection of data are greatly appreciated. Our most sincere thanks go to Friedrich Ebert Stiftung for generously providing funds to enable the evaluation to take place and facilitate the production of this report. Their co-operation and involvement throughout the evaluation was most unwavering and consistent.
The team would like to thank Agritex, at both the head office and field levels, for all their support at every step of the survey. Our gratitude is also directed to Zimbabwe Farmers' Union, particularly its field staff for so diligently gathering the required information within the shortest possible time.
The team leader owes his sincere gratitude and personal appreciation to all his team mates for all the co-operation and support they so loyally extended to him in this very time consuming task. Special thanks go to Mr Chikanda who assisted in coordinating the team members from the Government, Mr Mawonera who tirelessly coordinated all the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union field staff and Mr Dzingirai for his meticulous processing and analysis of the collected data, without whose input the report could never have come out in the form it has. My thanks also go to Ms R Amin and Ms P. Mpapa for their neat typing of the report.
However none of the people and organisations mentioned in this acknowledgement bears the responsibility for the errors, omissions, views and conclusions expressed in this study; they are my own responsibilities.
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LIST OF TABLES
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LIST OF FIGURES
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LIST OF APPENDICES
© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | Januar 2002