Mashonaland West Bureau
Heavy rains pounding most parts of the country have destroyed Makonde District's road network, affecting the distribution of agricultural inputs in the process.
Most roads in Makonde and Mhangura constituencies have become inaccessible.
The roads were already in bad shape following years on non-maintenance by the Makonde Rural District Council, but the situation as now gone out of hand.
The council has repeatedly blamed low revenues for the poor service delivery.
Recently, farmers in the district contributed fuel and other resources towards the regrading of roads, but their efforts were constantly hampered as the council's grader had several breakdowns.
Farmers who spoke to The Herald said while they were benefiting from inputs under the CBZ agro-yield commercial contract farming scheme, transportation of the inputs had become a challenge.
"Most roads are mostly inaccessible in the area, especially during the rainy season. Currently, most truck owners that we usually engage to ferry fertilisers are refusing to offer services because of the roads that are muddy and sticky," said Ackloan Magaya, a farmer from Chimanimani in Makonde's Ward 2.
Other farmers called on the Government to ensure that inputs were distributed well before the onset of the rains to avoid setbacks in agricultural activities, which end up reducing yields.
"Distribution and availability of inputs has to be done in early to reduce yield loss. As we speak, we are expecting top dressing fertilisers but the roads have become bad due to the incessant rains," another farmer said.
Mashonaland West provincial Agritex agronomist, Ms Siyena Makaza confirmed that some farmers were complaining about poor roads, which were now hampering transportation of inputs by other farmers in low-lying areas.
Makonde legislator, Cde Kindness Paradza, bemoaned the poor roads, saying they were now holding back development.
He said the Alaska-Copper Queen Road upgrade which has stalled, was affecting distribution of inputs as it is being ranked as one of the poorest roads in the country.
Mhangura Constituency Cde Precious Chinhamo-Masango also said: "The roads have not only affected inputs transportation but also ferrying of grain to Grain Marketing Board (GMB).
"Farmers are being charged exorbitantly which also results in the end user price shooting up."
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development embarked on the road upgrade exercise some three years ago, which was expected to see at least half of the 60km road being graded and tarred by 2021.
However, only 5km have been graded and it is feared the stretch may be destroyed by rains before being tarred.