Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Government is targeting to distribute maize, sorghum and cotton inputs to 2,2 million households for the 2018-19 summer cropping season, a move that will help cement Zimbabwe’s national food security.
This was said by President Mnangagwa in his remarks at the 6th annual Agri-business Conference at the Harare Agricultural Show.
The President, who is also the patron of the annual conference, said Government was working on improving productivity in the agricultural sector.
“Turning to the 2018-2019 cropping season, I am glad to advise that the distribution of inputs under Command Agriculture and the Presidential Input Scheme has commenced,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Government is targeting to provide inputs to about 1,8 million households for maize and sorghum and additional 400 000 households for cotton production. I encourage interested small holder farmers to facilitate early planning for the season.”
President Mnangagwa warned people against abusing the facilities by selling the inputs on the black market, saying Government would not hesitate to invoke Statutory Instrument 79 (2017) that criminalises the practice.
He said the advancement of the agricultural sector was necessary in the supply of raw materials for industry and improvement of food security.
“As you are aware, our country attained maize food self sufficiency following two successful cropping seasons,” said President Mnangagwa.
“These were largely due to the interventionist policies by Government such as the Command Agriculture and the Presidential Input programmes.
“The Command Agriculture programme was expanded to include wheat, livestock, fisheries, poultry, soya beans and cotton production. The response and uptake of these initiatives have been overwhelming and was a major step in reinvigorating the agricultural sector.
“We are equally confident of registering increased productivity in the expanded sub-sectors as we did with maize.”
President Mnangagwa urged financial institutions to provide cheap funding to enable farmers increase production.
“In our quest to grow the agriculture sector, affordable credit finance remains a major challenge as access and cost of finance are not favourable to most farmers,” he said.
“I, therefore, call upon financiers to redesign their financing models with a view to make their packages accessible and affordable to all farmers.
“In the same vein, I encourage beneficiaries of agro-finance schemes to honour their repayment obligations. The prevalence of non-performing loans must be a thing of the past in the Second Republic. Let us, as farmers, embrace a culture of honesty, high ethical and honourable conduct as we strive to build the Zimbabwe we all want.”
President Mnangagwa urged farmers to take farming as a business which must be viable and sustainable.
He said Government was in the process of restructuring the Agriculture Marketing Authority to make it responsive to marketing gaps within the sector.
“Going forward, it will be equally important to aggressively expand markets for agricultural produce,” said President Mnangagwa. “I, therefore, urge all farmers at every level to take advantage of our engagement and re-engagement policy and ultimately seek to enter the export market.
“In the same vein, more concerted efforts should be made towards self sustenance in the production of seed, agro chemicals and fertilisers. My Government has committed one percent of its budget to research and development across every sector of the economy.”
President Mnangagwa said Government, through the Land Commission, would conclusively address issues of maximum farm sizes and multiple farm ownership in a transparent manner.
He reiterated that the country was geared on improving the economy and called on everyone to participate in the process.
“Zimbabwe is open for business and every Zimbabwean should introspect and think on how he or she can contribute to the country’s economic development,” he said.
“Zimbabwe is not about individuals or the public or private sectors, it is ours together. Let us all commit ourselves to develop our motherland.”