‘Zim leads in Sadc and AU pro­grammes’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Wal­ter Nya­mukondiwa Harare Bu­reau

GOV­ERN­MENT of Zim­babwe’s Com­mand Agri­cul­ture is a unique na­tional food se­cu­rity in­ter­ven­tion that puts the coun­try in the lead in im­ple­ment­ing Sadc and African Union pro­grammes, South African Am­bas­sador to Zim­babwe, Mr Mphakama Mbete has said.

Of­fi­cially open­ing the Mashona­land West Agri­cul­tural Show in Chin­hoyi at the week­end, the South African en­voy hailed the cock­tail of mea­sures Zim­babwe had put in place to strengthen the agri­cul­ture sec­tor.

“De­spite the crip­pling drought sit­u­a­tion, I have noted with en­thu­si­asm the re­cent ini­tia­tive taken by Gov­ern­ment to mo­bilise ef­forts to ad­dress food se­cu­rity in this coun­try,” he said.

“Th­ese in­clude the unique and newly an­nounced Com­mand Agri­cul­tural Scheme which is fully fi­nanced by Gov­ern­ment.”

He said the ini­tia­tive would ca­pac­i­tate com­mer­cial farm­ers to join the lu­cra­tive agri­cul­tural value chain pro­cess­ing sec­tor.

Ever since the launch of the pro­gramme re­cently, over 500 farm­ers have ap­plied to take part in the scheme and more ap­pli­ca­tions are still pour­ing in.

At least 2 000 farm­ers work­ing on about 400 000 hectares of land are ex­pected to par­tic­i­pate in the scheme, which is crys­talised by a per­for­mance con­tract sub­sist­ing over three con­sec­u­tive grow­ing sea­sons.

It comes as Gov­ern­ment seeks to stem na­tional food in­se­cu­rity, which now stands at 42 per­cent from around 12 per­cent in 2011.

The Zim­babwe Vul­ner­a­bil­ity As­sess­ment Re­port says four mil­lion peo­ple need food aid this year be­cause of an El-Nino-in­duced drought.

Gov­ern­ment has in­vited farm­ers will­ing to par­tic­i­pate in the $500 mil­lion com­mand agri­cul­ture scheme to reg­is­ter with Agri­tex of­fi­cers in their ar­eas.

The pro­gramme seeks to pro­duce two mil­lion tonnes of maize with iden­ti­fied farm­ers be­ing given in­puts, ir­ri­ga­tion and mech­a­nised equip­ment for op­ti­mal yields.

Said Am­bas­sador Mbete: “I would like to com­mend the steps be­ing taken by Zim­babwe to be lead­ers in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­grammes of both Sadc and the African Union.”

Sadc is im­ple­ment­ing the Multi Coun­try Agri­cul­tural Pro­duc­tiv­ity Pro­gramme that seeks to strengthen the key pil­lars of NEPAD such as tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ment and dis­sem­i­na­tion and cre­at­ing link­ages.

The Com­pre­hen­sive African Agri­cul­ture De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme be­ing spear­headed by the African Union pri­ori­tises agri­cul­ture as a key in­stru­ment to in­crease food pro­duc­tion by at least 6 per­cent an­nu­ally.

Mr Mbete said agri­cul­ture had a cen­tral role to play in build­ing strong economies, which worked to re­duce in­equal­i­ties by in­creas­ing in­comes and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for both ru­ral and ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties.

He said Zim­babwe had over the years been a food bas­ket for South­ern Africa and pro­grammes such as agric shows, which he had at­tended, had shown that Zim­babwe had an or­gan­ised agri­cul­ture sec­tor that would soon see it re­claim­ing that po­si­tion.

The Am­bas­sador called on farm­ers to prac­tice good farm­ing meth­ods such as con­ser­va­tion agri­cul­ture in the face of un­pre­dictable weather pat­terns.

The SA en­voy said ZimAs­set needed to be taken a step fur­ther by pri­ori­tis­ing value ad­di­tion and ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion which is one of its pil­lars.

The Mashona­land West Agri­cul­tural Show is run­ning un­der the theme “In­vest­ment and In­no­va­tion for Economic Growth”.

Mr Mbete hailed the theme as a ral­ly­ing point for Mashona­land West prov­ince, Zim­babwe, Sadc re­gion and Africa as a con­ti­nent.

He said the qual­ity of ex­hibits showed the coun­try’s re­silience in try­ing to re­claim its food bas­ket sta­tus.

Mashona­land West prov­ince is ex­pected to con­trib­ute 130 000 hectares of land un­der the Com­mand Agri­cul­ture pro­gramme.

Min­is­ter of State Faber Chi­darikire said only se­ri­ous peo­ple should ap­ply for the pro­gramme.

“We want se­ri­ous peo­ple to take part in the pro­gramme who will put to good use the equip­ment and in­puts they will get from Gov­ern­ment. If you are not se­ri­ous don’t bother to ap­ply,” said Cde Chi­darikire.

Show so­ci­ety chair­man Mr God­frey Mavak­eni, ex­pressed sat­is­fac­tion with the num­ber and qual­ity of ex­hibits this year.

“We have seen growth in terms of the num­ber of ex­hibitors and the over­all qual­ity which we hope will be fully ex­ploited to foster link­ages for the growth of their busi­nesses,” he said.

Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter and Show So­ci­ety pa­tron Dr Ig­natius Chombo and Agri­cul­ture, Mech­a­ni­sa­tion and Ir­ri­ga­tion De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Dr Joseph Made also at­tended the of­fi­cial open­ing.

Tsholot­sho North MP Prof Jonathan Moyo hands over text­books, to Samahuru High School pupils

Cde Saviour Ka­sukuwere

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