Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Farmers produced more than three million tonnes of grain during the 2016 /17 agricultural season, as Government pledges to continue funding Command Agriculture Programme and the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme to boost land utilisation and productivity to ensure household and national food security. This was said by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in his closing remarks at the Zanu-PF Extraordinary Congress held in Harare yesterday.
President Mnangagwa said due to the Government’s intervention through Command Agriculture, farmers had delivered more than 1,2 million tonnes of maize to the GMB depots, but this was only 40 percent of the grain produced.
He said the newly reconstituted Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, which he had entrusted Air Marshal Perrance Shiri with, whom he said understood what command was, would ensure that appropriate policy instruments were put in place to support all categories of farmers, be they A1, A2, resettled or communal farmers.
“Government will continue to fund the Command Agriculture Programme which was facing sabotage and was being undermined and the Presidential Input Scheme,” said President Mnangagwa. “In addition to supporting traditional crops, Government has increased support for small grains, soyabeans and cotton. I am aware that some of us have been experiencing some challenges with regards to accessing seed and fertilisers from GMB depots in our provinces, while others have experienced great congestion and delays at depots and all this was a result of people undermining Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Scheme.
“Let me assure you all that the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement is looking into the matter and I am confident that the issues are being competently attended to.” President Mnangagwa urged the nation to work hard and ensure that the 2017/ 2018 agriculture season was a success. He said Government would also facilitate an enabling environment that ensured success throughout the agro-value chain.
“Funds have been set aside to boost agriculture productivity at a disaggregated level,” said President Mnangagwa. In this regard, Government would be expected to harness irrigation potential and ensure maximum utilisation of existing idle water bodies. Resources have so far been availed towards irrigation rehabilitation and development, with at least 200 hectares per district targeted to be implemented annually for the next 10 years.
“With the anticipated improvement of productivity in cropping, we have put in place measures to increase our harvesting capacity, through the importation of combine harvesters, driers and other agricultural equipment.” President Mnangagwa raised concern over the need to protect forests throughout the country, especially in the Eastern Highlands and said the Ministry of Water, Environment and Climate was looking into these matters, together with an accelerated thrust for reforestation, growing of fruit trees and the prevention of veld fires.
President Mnangagwa explained the Command Livestock, Fisheries and Wildlife Programme, which will be launched by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement on Thursday next week in Harare. He said the programme would ensure Zimbabweans consumed more fish like their regional counterparts. Under the Command Livestock, Fisheries and Wildlife programme, funding will be availed for increasing the national herd and other livestock, as well as revitalising the dairy sector.
Resources will also be set aside to develop the fishing industry at community level by distributing fingerlings for fish breeding purposes. “In addition, the development of pastures, the improvement of the quality of our livestock breeds through artificial insemination, the control and management of livestock diseases, as well as the erection of fencing boundaries will be equally prioritised,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Comrade delegates, I am confident that these vast interventions in the agricultural sector will improve our fortunes, not only as a country, but principally, at household level. In the quest to unlock the maximum benefits from our primary products and translate these to dollars in both the national purse and people’s pockets, we are intensifying our efforts on value addition, beneficiation and industrialisation.
“Communities and the membership of the party should fully exploit these opportunities as active participants.” President Mnangagwa said land reform was irreversible. For the avoidance of doubt, let me assure congress, the party membership and the nation at large, that the principle of repossessing our land cannot be challenged or reversed,” he said.
“To do so would be a betrayal of the brave men and women who fell in our protracted war of liberation, those who sacrificed their lives in our quest to regain our land. Indeed land and agriculture are at the core to us as a people and central to our economy.”
Article Source: The Herald