Felex Share in Zhombe—
Zimbabwe will stop importing grain in the next two years if communities fully utilise water bodies surrounding them and maximise use of agricultural equipment being sourced by Government. Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa said no one would starve this year as Government had put in place mechanisms to fend off the El Nino-induced drought affecting the country.
The Acting President, who chairs the Cabinet cluster on food security and nutrition, made the remarks here yesterday after touring Agricultural and Rural Development Authority’s Fair Acres Estate.
The estate is being resuscitated through a public private partnership arrangement.
“President Mugabe has ordered us that this business of importing grain should stop by 2018,” he said.
“Everyone in Government is focusing on food efficiency in the country and we will be food secure if we make use of the water bodies we have as well as the various irrigation equipment we continue to receive from various progressive countries. It should be farming throughout the year, no time to relax.”
On the food shortages, the Acting President said: “Government, through its structures, has people on the ground, in every ward who take into account all the requirements. Once that is done we move the grain into the needy areas, we have the grain in stock. Last week, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe released about $1 million of which $600 000 went towards the transportation of the grain.”
The Fair Acres Estate, which had collapsed because of the sanctions-induced economic hardships, has 500 hectares of land under soya beans and wheat.
Acting President Mnangagwa said the concept of value addition and beneficiation would come into fruition once the country is secure in terms of food production.
“It is from the resuscitation of these irrigation schemes and ARDA Estates that employment would be created for the locals,” he said.
“Yes, some may say we are over ambitious but the ultimate goal of value addition and beneficiation is to have everything produced locally such that we reap high returns. It is possible to have milling companies at institutions like these but everyone should play a role and not wait for Government to go it alone.”
He said the agricultural equipment being sourced by Government was not coming for free and farmers would be required to pay back once they started yielding high produce.
The Acting President said he would ensure the challenges of energy and water supply raised by ARDA board chairman Mr Basil Nyabadza were addressed.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said the equipment had made farming effective and should not be vandalised.
“We have made an investment in this equipment because farming these days require modern technology to be effective,” he said.
“Our targets can be achieved because for the few months that we have started using the equipment in various provinces, we have managed to conserve water and applied that water in a responsible manner through that machinery. We are on track when it comes to achieving our targets as enshrined in the Zim-Asset document and enunciated by the 10-point Economic Plan.”
Mr Nyabadza said: “We are moving around reviving all our estates and here (Fair Acres Estate) we are in our third year of production through a partnership with Northern Farming. The major challenge here is little power which we share with Jena Mine and poor road network. This should be addressed because the demise of agricultural activities at these schemes has negative effects not on the local communities only but the national economy as a whole.”
Acting President Mnangagwa later toured the Doreen’s Pride Estate in Kadoma where 170 hectares of land are under maize, in another effort to resuscitate ARDA Estates.
Meanwhile, Lloyd Gumbo writes that VP Mnangagwa says the implementation of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation has scored a number of positive results with better prospects still lying ahead.
VP Mnangagwa, who is also the Acting President, made the remarks during a Questions Without Notice session in the Senate yesterday.
MDC-T Senator for Manicaland, Mr David Chimhini asked how Government intended to revive the economy claiming that Zim-Asset had failed because of lack of financial resources.
“Zim-Asset is doing very well as it is anchored on four clusters that touch on Food Security and Nutrition; Social Services and Poverty Eradication; Infrastructure and Utilities as well as Value Addition and Beneficiation,” said VP Mnangagwa.
“These are the four clusters that encompass the entire economy of the country. You can actually say in food security, we are looking at how agriculture of this country should feed this country and to do so we are aware of the El Nino phenomenon that has affected the whole of sadc region.
“We in Zimbabwe are now promoting irrigation. We are now empowering our people around water bodies.
“We are making an assessment of who lives around water bodies and once that has been done, we shall compel those people to irrigate. But it is Government which must empower them with irrigation equipment, empower them with resources, seed and fertiliser.”
He said there were a number of water bodies that were lying idle throughout the country when they could be utilised for agriculture instead of relying on rain-fed agriculture.
VP Mnangagwa said Government had concluded a deal for farm and irrigation machinery equipment from Brazil and Belarus while another deal with India was in the pipeline.
On infrastructure development, he said Government was in the process of dualising roads as well as refurbishing power plants that would see the country surpass the power peak demand of about 2, 200 megawatts.
He said Government also wanted to revive the National Railways of Zimbabwe as part of implementation of Zim-Asset.
He also said there was need for Government to come up with ways to curb road accidents which he said, the majority of which was because of human error.
“I think it is important that we introduce a system where we continuously assess drivers because some of them may have taken their driver licences a long time ago.
“We also need to introduce age limit for public transport drivers. We can’t have 20-year-olds driving a bus with 70 people. These young ones love music a lot. They may think they are the only ones using the roads in the process risking the lives of other road users.
“There is also need for many highway patrols, not roadblocks to make sure only roadworthy vehicles are on the road. These are my personal suggestions, but as a country we need to get together and come up with ways to reduce road carnages,” he said.
Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Chiratidzo Mabuwa also told the Upper House that Government was committed to reviving local industry as evidenced by various interventions.