Farm­ers reg­is­ter 300 000ha un­der com­mand agri­cul­ture

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Harare Bu­reau

THOU­SANDS of farm­ers have so far reg­is­tered 300 000 hectares of land un­der the Gov­ern­ment’s com­mand agri­cul­ture pro­gramme with eval­u­a­tion of farms ex­pected to start this week.

The Gov­ern­ment set a tar­get of 400 000 hectares for the pro­gramme.

Deputy Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture, Mech­a­ni­sa­tion and Ir­ri­ga­tion De­vel­op­ment (Crop­ping) Cde Davis Mara­pira, in an in­ter­view, said eval­u­a­tion of the farms would be con­ducted in the prov­inces be­gin­ning this week.

He said pro­vin­cial of­fi­cials from the De­part­ment of Ir­ri­ga­tion and Mech­a­ni­sa­tion and Agri­tex would be mov­ing around prov­inces as­sess­ing the farms as prepa­ra­tions for the 2016-17 sum­mer crop­ping agri­cul­tural sea­son in­ten­sify.

“As­sess­ment of the farms is be­gin­ning this week from the 300 000 hectares that have been reg­is­tered so far across the prov­inces,” Cde Mara­pira said.

“As the par­ent min­istry, we will mon­i­tor the process but reg­is­tra­tion is still on­go­ing and our tar­get is 400 000 hectares and not on the num­ber of farm­ers who reg­is­ter.

“The farm­ers who would have qual­i­fied will be given in­puts while others will have their ir­ri­ga­tion schemes re­sus­ci­tated,” Cde Mara­pira said.

He said the pro­gramme was more at­tain­able to farm­ers in re­gion one, two and three while those in re­gion four and five could only be in­cor­po­rated if they have ir­ri­ga­tion.

Cde Mara­pira said the Gov­ern­ment’s main fo­cus ar­eas would be Mashona­land East, Mashona­land West, and Mashona­land Cen­tral with parts of Mid­lands and Man­i­ca­land be­ing ac­com­mo­dated in the pro­gramme.

“The farms should be near wa­ter bod­ies and each hav­ing the ca­pac­ity to put a min­i­mum of 200 hectares un­der maize. Our tar­get will see farm­ers work­ing un­der strict su­per­vi­sion and re­quired to com­mit five tonnes per hectare to the Gov­ern­ment as re­pay­ment for the in­puts and agri­cul­tural equip­ment.

Re­cently Zesa pledged to en­sure con­sis­tent elec­tric­ity sup­ply to farm­ing ar­eas this sea­son while fer­tiliser and maize seed pro­duc­ers as­sured the na­tion of ad­e­quate in­puts. The firms said they have 40 000 tonnes of maize seed in stock and 60 000 tonnes (top dress­ing) and 40 000 tonnes (com­pound) in fer­tiliser stock.

The $500 mil­lion Com­mand Agri­cul­ture Pro­gramme, which was launched by Vice Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa in July, aims to pro­duce two mil­lion tonnes of maize on 400 000 hectares of land.

The Gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to em­bark on the pro­gramme was ne­ces­si­tated by the rise in na­tional food in­se­cu­rity from about 12 per­cent in 2011 to 42 per­cent this year.

Zim­babwe, like sev­eral other Sadc coun­tries, had to rely on im­ports to sup­ple­ment its mea­gre grain har­vest this sea­son.

The Zim­babwe Vul­ner­a­bil­ity As­sess­ment Re­port said four mil­lion peo­ple needed food aid this year be­cause of an El-Ni­noin­duced drought.

Other Gov­ern­ment pro­grammes such as the Pres­i­den­tial In­puts Sup­port Scheme would com­ple­ment com­mand agri­cul­ture.

Cde Davis Mara­pira

VP Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa

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