Lloyd Gumbo, Harare Bureau
The Government has a comprehensive programme to ensure the country produces adequate grains to feed the whole nation even under drought conditions, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has said.
He said one of the major plans was to construct dams throughout the country with Environment, Water and Climate Minister, Oppah Muchinguri, expected to launch the project in three weeks’ time.
VP Mnangagwa was appointed by President Mugabe to spearhead the Command Agriculture programme in his capacity as chair of the Cabinet Committee on Food Security and Nutrition — itself a cluster of the economic blueprint Zim-Asset.
The Vice President said never again shall Zimbabwe import grain from other countries as projected yield from the Command Agriculture and the Presidential Input Scheme pointed to a bumper harvest.
VP Mnangagwa made the remarks when he officiated at the Chaminuka Vocational Training Centre Command Agriculture Field Day in Mt Darwin yesterday.
The institution is training youths in various skills including agriculture up to diploma level.
“The President said we want a programme where even when there is drought or adequate rains, we will not have hunger again,” said VP Mnangagwa.
“The programme as spearheaded by the President is that from this year going forward, there will be no more hunger. Now we have a programme where this country will never have hunger issues again. We need 400 000 hectares of land to produce two million tonnes of grain. Of that two million tonnes, 1,5 million tonnes will be adequate to feed this nation and 500 000 tonnes will be strategic grain, that we put in strategic reserve.
“At the moment we have irrigation facilities countrywide to irrigate up to 159 000 hectares. We want to develop this, by the next season to 200 000 hectares.
“Down the line, we must increase hectarage that will be under irrigation to 400 000 hectares. When we get there, it means even if there is drought, we can still irrigate 400 000 hectares and have enough grain to feed the nation.”
He said Minister Muchinguri was expected to launch a programme for the construction of dams countrywide as part of Government strategy for water harvesting.
VP Mnangagwa said it was the role of Provincial Ministers and district administrators to identify arable land that needed irrigation facilities.
“At the moment, we have Tokwe Mukosi, which is now complete. It can provide irrigation for 26 000 hectares. And our role as Command Agriculture is to make sure that we have sourced irrigation equipment and inputs that are needed,” said VP Mnangagwa.
Turning to Chaminuka Vocational Training Centre’s adoption of Command Agriculture, VP Mnangagwa said it was clear that the programme was bound to be a success for the institution.
To that end, he said other VTCs throughout the country would be supported to join the programme.
“Through Command Agriculture, this Vocational Training Centre was able to increase maize cropping from 40ha in the 2015/2016 season, to 100ha in the current 2016/2017 season, a significant 150 percent increase, with the yield expected to increase from four tonnes per hectare to 10 tonnes.
“I want to applaud Chaminuka Vocational Training Centre for taking the initiative to mobilise and raise $40 000 for agricultural production this season.
“This commitment by the Vocational Training Centre was complemented by the Command Agriculture Programme, which provided additional agricultural inputs worth $60 000.
“From this combined investment, I am advised that Chaminuka Vocational Training Centre is expecting to realise not less than $200 000 from the sale of its maize crop. These funds will be critical in further developing the VTC, including subsidising the cost of students coming to train at the centre,” said VP Mnangagwa.
He said the land reform programme had started bearing fruits including in tobacco where the country harvested way more than the colonial regime of Ian Smith ever produced before the country gained its independence.
VP Mnangagwa said Government was also coming up with a programme where each province would have its own Gross Domestic Product, where they also identify economic opportunities that lie there.
This will cascade down to Parliamentary constituencies, where local Members of Parliament would have to identify areas where they need Government support.
In his remarks, Mashonaland Central Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, Advocate Martin Dinha, said Command Agriculture had been a big success in the province, adding that it was going to be Zanu-PF’s trump card ahead of next year’s harmonised elections.
Delivering a vote of thanks, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister who is the local Member of Parliament for the area (Mt Darwin South), Cde Saviour Kasukuwere hailed Command Agriculture and the Presidential Input Scheme, saying the province would be self-sufficient.
“We are grateful, Cde Vice President for the message you brought here, the message of development, which we have been yearning for.
“We thank the support given by His Excellency through Presidential Input Scheme and Command Agriculture.
“The Command Agriculture programme is not about statistics but the spirit behind the programme. We took the land so that our people can be empowered. What we are grateful for is the sense of urgency that has been introduced in agriculture because for too long, there had been little activity,” said Minister Kasukuwere who is also the Zanu-PF national political commissar.
He said the Government should timeously give farmers inputs again this year so that they can continue to vote for the revolutionary party.
The VTC donated beasts to President Mugabe and Vice President Mnangagwa.
Article Source: The Chronicle