Conmen leave farmers in a lurch

28 Nov, 2021 - 00:11 0 Views
Conmen leave farmers in a lurch Asst-Comm Nyathi

The Sunday Mail

Tendai Chara

Rains currently being experienced in different parts of the country have brought smiles to the faces of many farmers.

Some are now wrapping up final land preparations, while others are making last-minute efforts to secure outstanding inputs.

Sadly, this is where the trouble begins for some unfortunate farmers.

As has apparently become the norm in recent years, fake agricultural input dealers are already on the prowl.

They are taking advantage of desperate farmers by selling them cheap, yet fake agricultural inputs.

The recent arrest of a Karoi woman on allegations of packaging fake maize seed in 25kg Seed Co-labelled pockets for resale to unsuspecting customers is an indication that fake agricultural input dealers are on the loose.

Police recovered fake maize seed, a colouring paint and empty Seed Co-labelled pockets during the arrest.

In the past, fake agricultural input dealers were mostly confined to major cities and towns, particularly the Mbare area in Harare.

“Of all places, I never imagined fake input dealers operating in Karoi. We are used to reading or hearing about such reports coming from Harare. Now that they have seemingly spread their wings, it is now scary to buy our agricultural inputs anywhere. This is now forcing us to travel long distances in search of reputable dealers,” Michael Matare, a Darwendale farmer, said.

In the past, Matare used to buy agricultural inputs at a hardware shop which is located at Nyabira, along the Harare-Chinhoyi Highway.

Apart from maize seed, fake chemicals and fertilisers are also on the market.

Johnson Moyondizvo of Royden Farm in Zvimba narrated how he fell victim.

“I was buying my fertiliser when I was approached by a smartly dressed man who told me that he was selling the same product at a lower cost than that being charged by the supplier. I was directed to the back of a certain building where the fertiliser was loaded into my truck.

“When I reached home, I discovered that some of the bags were actually filled with some funny stuff that looked like sand. It was a big blow! I lost huge sums of money,” narrated Moyondizvo.

Some farmers who wanted herbicides were also duped into buying bottles filled with water.

The criminals use original packaging to avoid easy detection. Similarly, they are always on the move to avoid arrest.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president Dr Shadreck Makombe acknowledged the presence of fake input dealers on the market.

“We recently witnessed the sad story in which a farmer was misled. The farmer wanted to buy an insecticide, but was duped and given a herbicide. The farmer’s plants subsequently dried up. These fraudsters are not only unscrupulous, but also heartless,” Dr Makombe said.

He, however, indicated that farmers were equally to blame.

“The problem lies with the farmers themselves. Some of them do not want to deal with bonafide manufacturers and retailers. As farmer organisations, we try our best to educate farmers about the dangers of dealing with fly-by-night dealers,” he said.

“The problem is that those that are falling victim rarely make police reports or come to us for help. The victims will be ashamed and suffer in silence.”

Addressing Parliamentarians recently, players in the maize seed industry implored policymakers to come up with laws and tough penalties on those peddling fake seeds.

Zimbabwe Republic Police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said they were conducting awareness campaigns.

“We have been, in partnership with such stakeholders as farmer organisations and seed manufacturers, conducting awareness campaigns.

“Our efforts are bearing fruit since we have noticed that the number of farmers that are falling prey to fake inputs fraudsters is not that high compared to previous years,” he said.

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