Walter Nyamukondiwa Chinhoyi Bureau
Government will embark on another agricultural programme called Super Agriculture that will put swathes of idle land countrywide under crops following the success of Command Agriculture, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
Government, he said, had secured funding for the winter wheat crop covering over 50 000 hectares, while working on a comprehensive transition mechanism from summer to winter cropping.
Domiciled under the Command Agriculture Programme, the mechanism will see the establishment of dryers, mills and silos at central locations countrywide.
Speaking during a tour of farms in three districts of Mashonaland West Province, VP Mnangagwa said the programme to build localised silos, dryers and mills will ensure harvesting is done in good time.
Under the Super Agriculture Programme, VP Mnangagwa said areas like the Zambezi Valley, Chiredzi and Tokwe-Mukosi in Masvingo have potential to produce crops.
In these places, Government was contemplating finding investors, but will also consider local farmers after witnessing the capacity of some them under Command Agriculture.
“Farmers will indicate the maximum size of land they are prepared to work on and Government will support them,” he said.
“They will benefit, but they will be doing it for the country. This will be on a large scale of around 1 000 hectares and above.” VP Mnangagwa said the winter wheat programme, an extension of Command Agriculture for maize would be heavily supported by Government.
“We have a winter wheat programme where we have already secured a financier to cover about 50 000ha of land,” he said. “The financial support is there.
“Being cognisant of the need to harvest in time so that our farmers do not miss the winter planting period, a mechanism is being put in place to properly manage the transition (from Command Agriculture for maize).”
VP Mnangagwa said a process was now under way to identify farmers who could be supported under the programme with inputs.
Zimbabwe needs at least 400 000 tonnes of wheat every year for consumption and the support will ensure that there is enough wheat after harvesting.
This signals the expansion of crops that are being supported under Command Agriculture from maize to cover wheat and soya beans.
VP Mnangagwa said there was no room for corruption under the Command Agriculture programme, and culprits will not escape the law.
He expressed satisfaction with the crops that he saw and the amount of work farmers put in, saying the only headache was where to store the excess maize.
The Ministry of Agriculture has indicated that only three out of 12 silos were in a usable state with the remainder requiring $50m to rehabilitate.
“Farmers responded overwhelmingly and the crops are impressive as we saw during my tour,” he said. “The only headache is what to do with the excess maize, but we know something is being worked out already to address that.”
The Vice President visited ARDA Doreen’s in Kadoma where he said work was progressing well with prospects of increased hectarage in the next cropping season.
He then flew to Gabaro Farm in Hurungwe where Mr Innocent Mahufe has 450ha of maize under Command Agriculture.
His final station was at Binge Farm in Mhangura, Makonde district where about 18 A1 farmers came together and were supported with inputs for 150ha under the programme.
VP Mnangagwa said the showing by farmers will lead to an expanded programme next summer, while modalities are already being worked out to ensure inputs are provided on time.