Nduduzo Tshuma, Political Editor
THE Government has secured funds to pay for up to 1, 3 million tonnes of grain deliveries expected from farmers following the success of the Presidential Inputs Support and Command Agriculture schemes, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said yesterday.
Officially opening the Zimbabwe International Business Conference at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, VP Mnangagwa said Government was still looking for more funds to cover the remainder of the expected two million plus tonnes of grain harvest this season.
“In order for farmers to prepare for winter wheat farming in earnest and pay for goods and services and other necessities, Government will ensure that farmers are paid on time,” he said.
“We already have enough funds to pay for 1,3 million tonnes of grain delivered to the Grain Marketing Board and we are still working on sourcing further funds because we believe that grain intake will exceed two million tonnes,” he said.
The VP said the expected bumper harvest guarantees the country enough stock feed that will go into various agro-processing production lines. He said the Government was supported by the private sector in making available enough grain storage facilities to minimise post harvest grain losses.
VP Mnangagwa said preparations for planting the winter wheat crop were in full swing as well as those for summer cropping.
“We are already preparing for summer because we listened to criticisms from the private sector, the farming community and community leaders regarding the Command Agriculture deficiencies or shortcomings. We value those comments or criticisms because they help us improve our service delivery and remain in power as the ruling party,” he said.
VP Mnangagwa said Government was happy with the 2016/2017 Command Agriculture for maize production and hinted that similar programmes will be extended to livestock, wheat, cotton and soya beans production.
He said next month Government would launch a command fisheries scheme under the Ministry of Water, Environment and Climate, which will benefit all provinces.
VP Mnangagwa said Government seeks to exploit ground water sources in the country to achieve a minimum of 300 000 hectares of land under irrigation from the present 160 000 hectares.
“You are aware that we need at least 400 000 hectares of land to produce enough grain with the strategic grain surplus of half a million tonnes. But we can’t rely on rains from above so it is necessary to develop irrigation schemes and if we have at least 300 000 hectares under irrigation, we are guaranteed enough food whether there is a drought or no drought,” said VP Mnangagwa.
He said an important lesson drawn from the 2016/2017 summer agricultural season was the need to maximise distribution of inputs for the 2017/2018 season so that all farmers participating in Command Agriculture, Presidential Inputs Scheme and any other organised support programme get their inputs by August this year.
VP Mnangagwa urged increased use of fertilisers, hybrid seeds, planting of high value crops for export such a flowers and fruits and adopting ICT aided farm management systems.
He said plans were in place to value add and process agricultural commodities at source and to link small vegetable and fruit farmers and farming co-operatives to agro-processing plants.
VP Mnangagwa said the floods experienced around the country due to heavy rains resulted in the destruction of infrastructure and displacement of communities in some affected areas.
He said $200 million is required to rehabilitate flood damaged infrastructure.
VP Mnangagwa also said Government through the Office of the President and Cabinet was undertaking the Road and Bridges Rehabilitation Programme among other civil protection interventions in the flood affected rural and urban areas.
He said $45 million has been disbursed towards the rehabilitation of roads while the Government through the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration is assisting local authorities to repair all trunk roads.
“Such repairs to road infrastructure will thus facilitate the transportation of grain and other crops from different farming areas across the country to the Grain Marketing Board depots and other agro- processing companies,” he said.