Chiefs appeal for inputs

Gwanda Correspondent
CHIEFS in Matabeleland South have appealed for inputs for the Isiphala Senkosi/Zunde Ramambo scheme in the 2015-16 farming season to boost food security in the province. The Isiphala Senkosi scheme is a traditional social security initiative under which chiefs coordinate the growing of crops on designated plots with the harvest being used to feed underprivileged groups in their areas.

In some cases, communities contribute a bucket of maize or sorghum to the scheme from what they would have harvested on their plots and it is kept by the chief for redistribution during times of hunger. Orphans, the elderly, widows, the chronically ill and those living with disabilities are among Isiphala Senkosi scheme beneficiaries.

The scheme has not been successful in Matabeleland South Province, with some areas having last embarked on the programme in 2013, due to lack of inputs and low rainfall, among other challenges. In separate interviews, the chiefs said it was important for them to get support for Isiphala Senkosi to ensure food security.

Chief Malaba of Matobo District said inputs support was crucial for the scheme’s revival.

“Last year, I did not get any inputs for the scheme, but I hope this year we will get the inputs so that we support the needy groups. Most people did not harvest anything last year and these vulnerable groups are struggling to get something to eat,” said Chief Malaba.

“Some non-governmental organisations have been assisting but it is not enough. We hope the Government would also intervene with provision of food for the needy.”

The chief called for the early disbursement of inputs this farming season to enable people to take advantage of the first rains. “The scheme has been very beneficial to our communities and needs more support,” he said. Chief Mbiko Masuku of Gwanda District said desperate people were frequenting his homestead seeking food aid and the scheme was a way of addressing food shortages.

He said although he received some inputs for the scheme last year, nothing was harvested due to poor rains. “The problem is water and the solution is to irrigate the plots under the scheme so that we maximise the benefits and fight poverty,” Chief Masuku said. Matabeleland South provincial agronomist Innocent Nyathi said there was need to resuscitate the Isiphala Senkosi scheme through the supply of inputs.

“Some chiefs have gone for about two seasons without receiving the inputs for the scheme, which has proven to be a more sustainable way. It is a challenge to all of us in the province to ensure that Isiphala Senkosi scheme becomes vibrant,” he said. “We need to develop a system whereby we have more inputs pushed to the chiefs because they are the most respectable figures in our societies and, they can make things happen. We need to be aggressive in this concept.”