Sydney Kawadza Senior Reporter—
President Mugabe yesterday hailed Zimbabweans and Zanu-PF supporters, in particular, for heeding the call to participate in the hugely successful Command Agriculture Programme.Maize in excess of 2,1 million tonnes is expected to be harvested, even in dry areas like Gokwe and Lupane.
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Addressing thousands of party youths who thronged Somhlolo Stadium in Lupane, Matabeleland North, for the Fourth Presidential Youth Interface Rally, the President attributed the success of the programme to unity.
“Well, we are united under Zanu-PF and Zanu-PF has programmes and objectives. It is in Government. It is principled. It is very clear in its principles and in how to achieve the principles.
“I want to thank the party for the unity they managed to put together in order to achieve what they designed and called the Command Agriculture Programme.
“And I want to thank you for responding to the call by the party to join this programme and this year we are all happier for having in fact worked together.”
Listen to the audio below:
The President’s comments flew in the face of anti-Command Agriculture rants by Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, who made a rare appearance at a Presidential Youth Interface Rally yesterday.
“The Government tried its best providing inputs, seed, fertiliser, but you said ‘thank you, we shall provide, with the inputs that you have made available, the labour, the labour in our own respective areas.
“And we are happy that the Command Agriculture has produced, massive, massive, massive tonnes of maize.
Even here, lots of maize has been produced in areas which, normally, are dry and, thank God the rain was abundant. Every province, the same, so akula umuntu ozalamba as before.”
President Mugabe said when it becomes necessary, Government will assist, from its resources, the poor and the elderly.
He said Government would no longer import maize.
“I think for the next year or so, because the soils are wet, there is abundant water on the land and we are sure when we have that situation there will be evaporation enough to bring us rain.
“Our duty is to continue working together so that we continue to produce food for ourselves and others, even in Africa. We will have once again become the basket that has food for others outside Zimbabwe,” he said.
President Mugabe said the drought had even affected wild animals that were invading villages in search of food.
“There was little water anywhere they wanted to share it with us. They were uninvited guests. In some cases they even broke into our houses.
“But we are happy when the forests are green, the land is wet and the dams full, that the animals will not bother us they will know where to go and where their rightful homes are.”
During the third leg of the Youth Interface Rallies in Masvingo, President Mugabe described the Command Agriculture Programme as beautiful.
The programme, which is the brainchild of First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe is aimed at ensuring food security. It was adopted by Cabinet with Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa being assigned to supervise its implementation.
Vice President Mnangagwa chairs the Cabinet Committee on Food Security and Nutrition.
Command Agriculture is one of the quick-win deliverables under Zim-Asset’s Food Security and Nutrition Cluster.
It is also encapsulated in President Mugabe’s 10-Point Plan under the goal: “Revitalising agriculture and the agro-processing value chain”.
To build on the success recorded this year, Government has already signed another $487 million deal with Sakunda Holdings for the 2017-18 agricultural season.
The new facility is targeting 350 000 hectares up from the 172 000 planted last year.
Zimbabwe is expecting a bumper harvest of 2,7 million tonnes of cereals, with 2,1 million tonnes expected from maize.
The remaining 600 000 tonnes will come from small grains.