Precious Manomano Herald Reporter
ZIMBABWE is moving ahead on several fronts to ensure that the land reform programme becomes a resounding success by making sure farmers have the inputs and backing to push production to new heights, far higher than what was produced before the exercise.
Land reform, which gave a lot of farmers access to land, has been matched with the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy which ensures they can use that land effectively to increase production.
The strategy is a composite plan of action drawn from the agriculture recovery and livestock growth plans.
Agricultural transformation is on course with the Government introducing Pfumvudza, Command Agriculture, contract farming and corporate farming as ways to boost the agricultural and industrial revolution which saw Zimbabwe’s transformation taking less than 20 years after the introduction of the land reform.
Speaking at a field day held in Mazowe in Mashonaland Central, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Dr John Basera said last year, the country managed to produce a record winter harvest. Other crops also did well as the agricultural recovery plan seeks to reverse the negative trends in terms of food production in Zimbabwe.
Dr Basera urged farmers to increase productivity per unit area using fewer resources. “For the first time since the beginning of wheat farming in Zimbabwe, we are flour self-sufficient. Before land reform, we did not achieve this bumper harvest. We managed to do it after the land reform programme.
“It is not about hectarage, but it is about productivity per unit area. It is more about producing more from fewer resources and that’s the hallmark for agricultural transformation in Zimbabwe. That’s what we want; to consolidate the gains of the land reform. We need to put forth the right plans,’’ he said.
Dr Basera described engagements between farmers and the private sector as a strategic move endowed with lots of potential to propel the agriculture sector to high levels of growth.
“We managed to crowd in the participation of the private sector so that we achieve the transformation that we all seek. All these successes which we are recording its because of partnerships.
In 2020 Government made a pronouncement that all private businesses in Zimbabwe who want raw materials from agriculture must produce at least 40 percent of their requirements locally by supporting local farmers.
“So we started to operationalise the provision of joint venture framework so that you can get in partnerships with private players or other investors. I want you all to have access to land and this is done through joint venture networks.
“Go and partner with land holders who might not have the requisite capacity especially the resources capacity to the land. Let’s enter into strategic partnerships”, Dr Basera said.
So far Government has approved over 2 000 joint ventures since 2020 covering more than 20 000 hectares of land. The ministry was monitoring and evaluating so that they see how these joint ventures are working. The last time this was checked it was 80 percent use.
“This is also a critical component to the success of the land reform. We need to use the land. If you are a farmer and you do not have capacity, look for a partner to work with. Make sure all joint ventures are approved by the ministry. We want to protect the land holder and the investor. In case of disagreements the ministry will intervene,’’ Dr Basera said.
He said contract farming started to operationalise fully in 2020 in support of Government policy for agro-industries to finance at least 40 percent of the production of their raw materials.
“That led to the creation of Food Crop Contractors Association. It is a consortium of contract farming entities in the private sector who are contributing to food production in Zimbabwe for their raw materials requirements,” Dr Basera said.
Corporate farming is another component where private sector businesses apply for land then they do farming through companies.
Dr Basera challenged youths, women, graduates, farmers and land seekers to get involved in the secondary and tertiary sector of production.
Beneficiaries of land reform such as Mr Godfrey Nkunzani of Komani Estate in Mazowe is contributing positively to growing production by increasing productivity through conservation agriculture.
Nkunzani Farm has employed conservation agriculture to maximise production through optimising management to achieve Government’s goal of climate-proofing agriculture.
The farm currently produces an average of 12 tonnes of maize a hectare on dry land, an average of 3,4 tonnes of soyabeans a hectare, 67 tonnes of potatoes a hectare under drip irrigation, and vegetables.
Government recently warned that 260 000 people on the waiting list for farms are expected to benefit when the Government begins to reallocate abandoned plots, underused farms and farms that are lying idle.
Recently, Cotton Producers and Marketers Association chairman Mr Stewart Mubonderi hailed Government’s plans to re-allocate land to those on the waiting list adding that it will improve agricultural production.
“This is a positive step in the right direction. If productive people and those with potential are given land, then this is a welcome development.
“We appreciate the Government’s efforts and we are there to support the programme. We are also assured of food security if the land is given to those with potential to uplift and support the vision of or country,” he said.
Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust president Mrs Depinah Nkomo said farmers needed support to perform well.
“Unavailability of adequate resources may hamper productivity for small scale farmers. If farmers are well resourced, the possibility of producing more is very high. We are grateful for the support that most farmers are receiving from the Government’s initiatives,” she said.