Source: ‘Joint ventures promote maximum land utilisation, boost production’ | The Herald
CALLS to treat agriculture as a business and give impetus to the industrialisation of rural areas are growing louder by the day with the Government urging farmers to enter strategic joint venture and contracts arrangements that will enable them to fully utilise land and produce optimally.
This comes as over 200 000 hectares of land are set to cropped are under 2 000 joint venture arrangements this season.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development permanent secretary Dr John Basera recently commented that joint venture programmes were match making platforms in which land owners are paired with landless farmers who have access to finance and most importantly the technical ability for land optimisation.
“Our land utilisation is not one of the best with productivity reports on A1 and A2 farmers indicating that there are some levels of underutilisation. It is against this background that we started operationalising joint venture and contract farming frameworks but without reversing the gains of the revolution,” said Dr Basera.
With the diaspora community’s appetite for land continuing to grow, it is fast becoming clear that joint venture arrangements have become a viable avenue that can be explored as the Ministry aims to foster partnerships that guarantee productivity, added Dr Basera.
The thrust of the initiatives is to dovetail into the Government’s development agenda through the strategic industrialisation of marginalised rural communities that have no access to capital. This will also promote the creation of employment.
Furthermore, the Government through the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority’s (ARDA) joint venture model will empower farmers with working capital in the form of inputs, fuel for tillage and combine harvesting on the backdrop of support services such as soil testing among others. This will help boost yields with the programme targeting to produce at least 300 000 tonnes of grain in its debut season.
In the 2022/23 farming season, ARDA’s joint venture will focus on crops that fall under the food, feed, fibre and biofuels category. The crops in scope will be maize, wheat, sunflower sorghum, cotton and sugarcane. The scope will however be broadened to accommodate horticulture and livestock in the near future with specific emphasis on export markets.
Additionally, the Government through its policy of binding the private sector to fund 40 percent production of its raw materials locally has been able to motivate contract farming from key buyers.
The Government is promoting contract farming for strategic crops, as an important aspect of the agricultural revolution.