Agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion im­por­tant for stim­u­lat­ing eco­nomic re­vival

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

WHILE the econ­omy is self-cor­rect­ing and try­ing to find an equi­lib­rium as econ­o­mists tell us, it is im­por­tant for the Govern­ment to pri­ori­tise agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion in its in­ter­ven­tion.

It is no se­cret that as the econ­omy is fran­ti­cally try­ing to find an equi­lib­rium, it is also taking a se­ri­ous strain and the pain to the gen­eral pop­u­lace is ex­cru­ci­at­ing, as agroin­puts and agro-chem­i­cals have spi­ralled out of reach, mak­ing any pro­duc­tion en­ter­prise un­vi­able.

To make mat­ters worse, the in­puts have not only gone up but are also un­avail­able in most cases. A bag of grow­ers mash for broil­ers is now hov­er­ing around $80 from $32, pen fat­ten­ing meal is up from $13 to above $25 and is also un­avail­able in most shops.

A col­league with a croc­o­dile farm in Binga com­plained that croc­o­dile con­cen­trate prices have jumped from around $60 a bag to $300 and not avail­able.

It is a pub­lic se­cret that our econ­omy is agrobased which means one of the ma­jor eco­nomic driv­ers is agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion.

There­fore it is a no brainer that any ef­fort that seeks to re­vive and re­ju­ve­nate our econ­omy should among other ar­eas fo­cus on sup­port­ing agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion.

While fuel pro­cure­ment and sup­ply is im­por­tant and crit­i­cal in driv­ing the wheels of a coun­try I also feel this is a sec­tor which makes Govern­ment take a huge for­eign cur­rency strain sup­port­ing a by and large non­pro­duc­tive sec­tor.

Put sim­ply we are spend­ing huge amounts of scarce forex procur­ing fuel which is largely con­sumed by an idle cit­i­zen­ship driv­ing around in cars that are im­ported in for­eign cur­rency.

The Govern­ment is buy­ing fuel in forex to sell to cit­i­zens in lo­cal cur­rency. Isn’t this what they call a vi­cious cir­cle? Granted, we can­not all be pro­duc­ers of ex­port com­modi­ties but sim­pli­fied logic dic­tates that fuel will all be strate­gic in driv­ing this na­tion lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively when a good por­tion of it sup­ports pro­duc­tive sec­tors of the econ­omy that can earn the coun­try for­eign cur­rency or al­ter­na­tively in­crease lo­cal pro­duc­tion of some of the com­modi­ties that the coun­try is im­port­ing.

It is against this back­ground that this pen mo­ti­vates for se­ri­ous sup­port for the agri­cul­tural sec­tor es­pe­cially as we learn of avail­abil­ity of some draw down fa­cil­i­ties.

Let’s draw down the money and in­vest it in en­hanc­ing agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion so as to stim­u­late our econ­omy.

Agri­cul­tural sup­port in this in­stance may mean sub­si­dies pro­vided to agro in­put pro­duc­ers and sup­pli­ers so that th­ese be­come avail­able at af­ford­able prices and farm­ers can now go to the fields.

At the cur­rent cost of agro in­puts and their un­avail­abil­ity we may have one of the worst pro­duc­tion sea­sons also ag­gra­vated by a loom­ing El Nino phe­nom­e­non.

I may not be able to think and prof­fer ideas on the na­ture of sup­port that should be pro­vided to the agri­cul­tural sec­tor but hon­estly the be­gin­ning of wis­dom in this eco­nomic re­vival ef­fort is the ac­cep­tance of agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion as a key eco­nomic driver in this coun­try. With the price in­creases in com­mer­cial feeds this is what will hap­pen es­pe­cially in the live­stock sec­tor.

Eggs will be­come scarce be­cause farm­ers can’t af­ford and can’t get lay­ers mash, milk which we are pro­duc­ing in short sup­ply will be­come even less avail­able as farm­ers struggle to get or pay for dairy meal.

Hence this loud call to make sure our farmer is sup­ported so that we can con­tinue to have food on the shelves and ta­bles! While I ac­knowl­edge that the Govern­ment is also seized with other equally im­por­tant sec­tors such as health, I wish to point out the im­por­tance of agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion in ex­tri­cat­ing this econ­omy from the dol­drums and the sup­port thereof re­quired.

Let’s sup­port the farm­ers to pro­duce and half of our prob­lems will go away. In this ef­fort one ques­tion which we may need to an­swer is how we rally our farm­ers to pro­duce. Sim­ply put, how do we en­sure that no land is left ly­ing idle when the na­tion needs to be fed?

Uyabonga um­n­takaMaKhu­malo. Feed­back mazike­lana@gmail.com/ cell 07721851275.

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