Major agriculture shake-up looms

— New parastatals created
— Command model expanded
Livingstone Marufu —

GOVERNMENT will soon establish two new parastatals and overhaul existing ones in a bid to boost economic performance, a Cabinet minister has said.

This comes as Government has taken a decision that all agro-sectors in the country be put under Command Agriculture.

The Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Authority will spearhead irrigation infrastructure development and promote all-year round production, while the National Horticulture Authority of Zimbabwe will source foreign markets for local products.

Among the parastatals undergoing surgical work is the Cold Storage Commission which will superintend Command Livestock, which targets growing livestock and beef exports.

A new 11-member board has already been appointed.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail last week, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said Government has also directed banks and marketing institutions to mobilise funds to ensure 2016/17 maize producers are paid on time.

He said Grain Marketing Board silos and other grain storage facilities countrywide would be fully operational when grain deliveries begin in coming weeks.

“We are set to establish the National Horticulture Authority of Zimbabwe, which will focus on export markets. Plans are also at an advanced level to establish the Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Authority, which will be responsible for spearheading development of agriculture irrigation infrastructure.

“The parastatal will, among other responsibilities, target the utilisation of all water bodies as well as increase the number of water reservoirs across the country to promote production all-year round.”

Dr Made also said, “Demand for organically produced commodities is high in countries such as France, the Netherlands and China, and we must capitalise on these opportunities. Many foreign countries, including our neighbours, South Africa, are tired of consuming tasteless food, giving rise to demand for tasty organically produced food we are renowned for as a country.

“Now that an authority will be set, we must seize this opportunity to get farmers in the export business and generate more foreign currency. And, of course, Command Agriculture is a permanent feature for all sub-sectors of agriculture – be it maize, wheat, livestock, poultry or horticulture. This means all sub-sectors will get Government support, just as has been the case with maize production.”

Regarding this year’s grain harvest, Dr Made said: “For the convenience of farmers, we are ensuring satellite depots are opened in all farming communities that are expecting bumper harvests. The road infrastructure in all our farming communities was badly damaged and farmers can’t transport their produce to central GMB depots.

“We want communities to help identify points where satellite depots can be opened to enhance collection. The GMB, Agricultural Marketing Authority, People’s Own Savings Bank, CBZ Bank, Agribank and other related institutions supporting farmers will be visible in remote areas so that farmers can easily access their money. Operations will be at the farmer’s doorstep because that is where money is needed.”

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