THE Government’s thrust to include youths in farming programmes is bearing fruits with the just-ended wheat season in which they were actively involved yielding a record 320 000 tonnes of the cereal to leave the country flour self-sufficient.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development permanent secretary Dr John Basera revealed this recently, saying his Ministry’s push to include youths in financial programmes and not just concentrate on the old farmers’ regime had attracted young farmers into the mainstream agriculture economies such as wheat production.
“We are happy that more youths are coming on board to support primary production, as well as value addition activities and secondary production in the agriculture value chain,” said Dr Basera.
Dr Basera’s remarks come on the backdrop of resolute youths’ participation in wheat production, which has produced positive results with the country now set to save US$300 million that could have been used for wheat imports instead of being invested into the agriculture sector.
The Government saw it prudent to engage young farmers and encourage them to produce and even spearhead the growing of the winter wheat in a move that has also created employment for many people along the whole agriculture value chain.
The improved production of raw materials will create a domino effect on the country’s agro-processing industries and ultimately spawn economic development, Dr Basera further explained.
“The success of the just-ended wheat season is set to grow the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) through an improved appetite to consume by local industries, which will give impetus to the march towards the attainment of Vision 2030,” chairperson of the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ), Mr Tafadzwa Musarara observed.
Local production of wheat towards self-sufficiency takes care of the country’s import bill, which is a crucial aspect in dealing with the ripple effects of shocks in the global supply chains, as it also eases the effect of imported inflation.
The disturbances in the global supply chain caused by the Russian-Ukraine war prompted the Ministry of Agriculture to increase production levels by expanding the National Enhanced Agriculture Productivity scheme (NEAPS) to allow the participation of private players and young farmers through joint ventures.
“The private sector players supported the production of over 33 percent of the cereal. We believe the crowding in of private sector is a more sustainable route than allowing the Government to support 100 percent of production,” said Dr Basera.
The bumper harvest recorded this year will have a substantial effect in the economy, as the money that was going to be exported out of the country will assist in growing and capacitating the local agriculture sector in terms of mechanisation and irrigation development.
Dr John Basera underlined the need for the integration of the 65 percent youth population into agriculture stressing how youth’s familiarity with modern technology was critical for innovation and the development of the sector.