President urges nation to prepare for farming season
MORE than 2 000 farmers have signed up for the command agriculture initiative while the Government has so far secured $503 million for farming inputs for the 2016/17 summer season.
As preparations for the forthcoming agricultural season intensify, some of the inputs are already on the ground in large quantities. This comes as President Mugabe yesterday called on the nation to prepare for the season “with serious determination” and recover from losses encountered in the past agricultural seasons.
Speaking after the 303rd Zanu-PF Politburo meeting in Harare yesterday, the revolutionary party’s secretary for administration, Cde Ignatius Chombo, said all was set for the revitalisation of the agriculture sector in line with 10-Point Plan Economic Growth enunciated by President Mugabe recently.
He said Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who chairs the Cabinet Committee on Food and Nutrition together with Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister, Dr Joseph Made, informed the Politburo on Government’s position with regards to funding and input distribution. “The Vice President reported that 2 007 farmers had signed performance contracts under this programme (command agriculture),” Cde Chombo said. “Already 5 961 hectares of irrigable land have been tilled in preparation for the season. Government has 980 tractors available for hire, including 74 from the District Development Fund and a total of $503 million has been secured from various local financiers to mobilise the inputs. Inputs on the ground as we speak include 2 750 tonnes of seed, 20 000 tonnes of lime, 4 500 tonnes of basal fertiliser, 6 400 tonnes ammonium nitrate and four million litres of diesel.” Fertiliser companies have 100 000 tonnes compounds and ammonium nitrate in stock, while seed companies have 40 000 tonnes, which are enough to support command agriculture. The programme aims to produce two million tonnes of maize on 400 000 hectares of land. The farmers, to work under strict supervision, will be required to commit five tonnes per hectare to Government as repayment for the inputs and agricultural equipment.
Cde Chombo said President Mugabe emphasised the need for adequate preparations.
“Noting that the 2015-16 farming season was not pleasing, President Mugabe encouraged the nation to prepare with serious determination to do better this season and recover from the losses of the past two seasons,” he said.
“His Excellency urged stakeholders, mainly seed and fertiliser producers to cooperate with Government so that this season is a successful one.”
Cde Chombo said President Mugabe had lamented the indiscipline witnessed in the distribution of land, especially in urban areas, giving rise to land barons.
“He warned urban citizens not to build on land that was not properly allocated. This will result in their structures being destroyed and urged local authorities to ensure that no construction should take place on land that is not legally allocated and planned for.”
Turning to party issues, Cde Chombo said the Politburo had deliberated on preparations for the 16th Annual National People’s Conference slated for Masvingo in December.
He said the conference to be held at the Masvingo Agriculture Showgrounds, would be held under the theme: “Moving with Zim-Asset in Peace and Unity.”
Said Cde Chombo: “The venue requires lots of civic works to meet the required standards of a conference venue.
“The party has undertaken to make upgrades that will greatly improve the outlook of Masvingo Showgrounds and enable it to host not only the conference but other major national and even international events. This is in line with the party’s vision of improving the country’s infrastructure. The finance sub-committee has started mobilising funds and two fund-raising dinners will be held in this regard. An exhibition will run concurrently with the conference.”
He said one of the major highlights of the conference would be the “Walkathon” where party youths are expected to walk from Harare to Masvingo, planting trees at identified schools in the process.
Cde Chombo said national commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, had reported on the outreach programme being done by the Chitepo Ideological College in various provinces.
“Under this programme, party members are schooled on the party ideology and history,” he said.
“This has been well received. He also updated the Politburo on the preparations of Zanu-PF for the Norton and Chimanimani by-elections. Generally the party is strong across all provinces and programmes are going according to plan.”
He said the secretary for external affairs Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi reported to the Politburo on President Mugabe’s recent visits to New York, United States, for the United Nations General Assembly and Venezuela for the 17th Non-Aligned Movement Summit.