Rudo Saungweme Correspondent
A landlocked country with a friendly climate, Zimbabwe’s land makes it suitable to plant various nutritious crops. Climatic conditions in Zimbabwe are largely sub-tropical with one rainy season between November and March. Rainfall reliability decreases from North to South and also from East to West.
Zimbabwe is divided into five agro-ecological regions, known as natural regions.
They are characterised on the basis of the rainfall regime, soil quality and vegetation.
The five regions all produce different crops that can benefit the country. Region 1 is suitable for forestry, fruit and intensive livestock production.
Common crops are tropical crops such as coffee and tea.
Horticultural crops such as potatoes and peas and flowers such as proteas are also grown for export.
Region 2 is located in the middle north of the country. Rainfall is fairly reliable.
It accounts for 70 to 80 percent of the area planted to crops in Zimbabwe.
The cropping systems are based on flue-cured tobacco, maize, cotton, sugar beans and coffee can be grown. Sorghum, groundnuts, seed maize, barley and various horticultural crops are also grown.
Supplementary irrigation is done for winter wheat.
Animal husbandry like poultry, cattle for dairy and meat is also practised. Region 3 is a semi-intensive farming region.
Large-scale crop production covers only 15 percent of the arable land.
Most of the land is used for extensive beef ranching.
Production systems are based on drought-tolerant crops and semi-intensive livestock farming based on fodder crops.
Maize dominates commercial farm production.
Region 4 and 5 are too dry, but communal farmers have no choice but to grow crops in these areas, even without access to irrigation.
Millet and sorghum are the common crops, but maize is also grown.
Communal farmers occupy 50 percent of the area of Region 4 and 46 percent of the area of Region 5 where they were pushed by successive settler regimes after the country was colonised. Cattle and goat production are major sources of cash income.
If these regions are synthesised, one notices that Zimbabwe, with everything being equal, can regain its breadbasket status.
The new administration led by President Mnangagwa means business and wants farmers to utilise their land productively.
Some of the farmers who benefited during the land redistribution programme in 1999 /2000 were underutilising their land because of lack of resources.
President Mnangagwa then introduced the idea of Command Agriculture to provide financial support to farmers.
Command Agriculture is whereby farmers are given inputs and farming machinery in return for delivering five tonnes each to the Grain Marketing Board.
This development marked a great improvement in the agriculture sector.
The new administration also introduced Command Livestock.
The Government distributed cattle under its $300 million special livestock, fisheries and wildlife programme.
The programme is targeting mostly farmers in Regions 4 and 5, that is Matabeleland and Masvingo provinces. Manicaland and Midlands provinces will also benefit.
This development will also boost Zimbabwe’s economy as we will end up exporting more and importing less.
This will ease cash shortages in Zimbabwe as exports bring more foreign currency in the country.
The new dispensation is doing whatever it can to make sure that the economy is back on its feet. The programmes being introduced to revive the agricultural sector show that Zimbabwe will soon be food self-sufficient.
Command Agriculture is already a success and results realised.
The milling capacity has risen from below 50 percent to 87 percent for maize meal and 93 percent for wheat.
This is a very big achievement, which will see Zimbabwe regaining its breadbasket status in the near future.