Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
THE Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development has come up with a concept paper that will provide guidelines on how farmers will benefit from the Livestock Command Agriculture.
The paper is now awaiting Cabinet approval before it is made public, an official has said. The Deputy Minister in charge of livestock in the Ministry, Cde Paddy Zhanda told Sunday News that although he could not divulge what was contained in the paper until it is approved, the programme was particularly targeting farmers in Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South as well as Midlands.
“A concept paper has been drawn already and is waiting for approval. As soon as this is done it will then be announced,” he said.
Cde Zhanda said there is no timeline as yet for the project but it will be made public once approved by the relevant authorities.
“It is evident that Command Agriculture has done well on the crop side and we have just recently submitted a plan to cover the livestock sector particularly for Masvingo, Matabeleland South, North and part of the Midlands where livestock does very well,” he said.
He said it was the Government’s intention to ensure that money to finance the programme was in place as soon as possible so that the farmers are covered just like what was done on the crop side.
“Government takes very seriously the issue of livestock because it is a major component in agriculture and in the lives of our people particularly in the mentioned regions,” he said.
Matabeleland is in ecological Region Five, which receives low rainfall hence it thrives on livestock production. Farmer organisations have said the programme should focus on providing replacement heifers, breeding bulls, technical advice, and loans with appropriate terms as cattle farming is a long term project, unlike cropping.
The farmer organisations said they were ready to mobilise their members for the successful implementation of the cattle aspect of the Command Agriculture programme.
Command mining has also been put on the cards and players in the mining sector have begun preparations. Under the proposed scheme, the country’s gold mining sector targets to increase their gold delivery to Fidelity Printers from 28 tonnes to 32 tonnes this year. The scheme has a bias towards capacitating small scale miners by allocating them more claims and making registration easy.