The Danish Embassy in Harare has rejected as “false” and “sensational” an “opinion piece” published in the Zanu PF propaganda sheet, The Herald, claiming that aid from Denmark was not benefitting targetted beneficiaries. Below, we publish the full statement from Erik Brøgger Rasmussen, the Chargé d’Affaires at The Royal Danish Embassy Office in Harare to The Herald.
By Erik Brøgger Rasmussen
WE write in response to the article carried under the (Herald) Gender Forum column entitled “Projects divorced from intended beneficiaries” that was written by Ruth Butaumocho and published in your newspaper on Tuesday, 18 March 2014.In her opinion piece, the writer cited the recent launch of the Agriculture Revitalisation Project that is funded by our government as part of a broader development assistance programme for Zimbabwe.
The project puts in place innovative mechanisms to support the commercialisation of rural smallholder farmers and to build capacity within the value chain in the sector.
While we take cognisance of the fact that the writer is entitled to her opinion, we would like to clarify issues and bring to your attention the following points:
1. The launch was held to engage and sensitise the various project stakeholders that include Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, and the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development, farmers’ unions, implementing agencies, private sector partners in the agri-business supply chain and the media.
This is the first level of engagement in any initiative before engaging the targeted beneficiaries at grassroots level. The stakeholder groups that attended the launch also have direct communication channels with the grassroots.
2. The writer used false information to sensationalise her article and in particular we would like you to take note of the following:
The launch event was not a red carpet evening function; in fact, it took place from 9 am until 1 pm. There was no pomp and ceremony to talk about and it was conducted in the form of a workshop with presentations on how the programme would work and how partners have already benefited.
The ZFU did not make a presentation or speech during the launch event
3. We invited the media as we believe that they are a key partner in the process of communicating the details of the initiative to the nation. The Herald and The Sunday Mail were represented by Elita Chikwati and Faith Mhandu.
However, since the launch we have not yet seen any report of the initiative in any of the two publications.
We were surprised to see an opinion piece in your paper that was written by someone who did not attend the function. In fact, your paper has on earlier occasions written about the project and acknowledged it’s results:
ZADT to raise funds for small-scale farmers (Published 6 April 2011)
Revitalising smallholder agriculture (Published 1 December 2011)
Agro-dealers enhance agric commodities value (Published 8 December 2011)
4. We take a needs based and participatory approach in our development co-operation interventions across the world. Our record speaks for itself:
We have supported the people of Zimbabwe since the days of the liberation struggle against the Smith regime in the 70s.
Since 2008, Denmark has emerged as one of Zimbabwe’s biggest bilateral donors; providing relief to over 2 million people
As part of our agriculture programme, we launched the Create Fund in 2012 which provides small holder farmers with affordable credit for their operations. The fund has already provided more than $11 million of credit to agro value chain actors who are connected with about 26 000 smallholder farmers.
Our assistance to the agriculture sector since 2010 has also contributed to the resuscitation of the agro-input distribution system with a network of over 1 000 agro-dealers through whose shops more than US$15 million of agro-inputs have been made available to smallholder farmers in a profitable and sustainable manner.
Erik Brøgger Rasmussen is the Chargéd’ Affairese.p. The Royal Danish Embassy Office.