Zimbabwe will receive state-of-the-art farming equipment worth US$38 million from Brazil under the “More Food Africa” (Zimbabwe) Programme to be used during the 2014/ 15 summer cropping season.This is the first tranche of the US$98 million loan facility mobilised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development from Brazil.
Officiating at the 2nd National Dialogue on Agro-Business, Food and Nutrition Security organised by the National Economic Consultative Forum and the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society, Acting President, Cde Joice Mujuru said the first consignment was expected by September.
“The Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development has mobilised a total of US$98 million from Brazil. This is in form of irrigation and mechanisation equipment.
“A contract between the Ministry and suppliers for the first tranche of US$38 million has been signed and the first tranche is expected by September 2014 for the summer cropping,” she said.
Acting President Mujuru said Government had also resuscitated 36 irrigation schemes across the country covering 3 060 hectares.
She said 60 percent of the irrigation beneficiaries were women.
Government is also rehabilitating Bonde and Nyanyadzi Irrigation schemes which cover 300 hectares.
“The rehabilitation is in its final stages with all pumps and pipes having been delivered on site. In addition the European Union availed 6 million for irrigation scheme rehabilitation in Manicaland and Matabeleland South to improve irrigation hectarage,” she said.
Cde Mujuru said Government will continue to engage any entity, national or regional block in every possible way to ensure a sustainable and food secure economy.
“Food security and nutrition remains a fundamental priority for Government. This is evidenced by its commitment to various international, regional and national programmes and projects that aim at attaining food security and nutrition both at national and household levels.
At an international level, the United Nations crafted the Millennium Development Goals to achieve between 2002 and 2015 and Government implemented a plethora of strategies at national level to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
Cde Mujuru said according to the Zimbabwe MDGs progress report of 2012, the percentage of food insecure rural households at peak (January to March ) declined steadily following the onset of economic recovery from 15 percent in 2010-2011 to 12 percent in 2011-12.
She said the number of insecure households was expected to fall again following a good 2013 /14 agricultural season.
At a continental level, efforts included the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) that was established as part of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development in July 2003 which focuses on improving and promoting agriculture across Africa.
“At national level, Zim-Asset set a national developmental plan under four key clusters. Food Security and Nutrition is accommodated under the first cluster. This cluster set up key priority areas that ensure quick wins to food security issues,” she said.
Cde Mujuru said access to affordable agricultural inputs was also key to ensuring food security and nutrition.
“President Robert Mugabe continues to support the land reform programme through inputs to increase production and productivity under the Presidential Inputs Support programme.
The scheme benefited 1,6 million households last season.
Speaking at the same function, acting Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Dr Olivia Muchena said the Presidential input scheme had contributed to the increase in food production.
“There has been a remarkable improvement of production of maize and small grains such as sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet,” she said.
Deputy Minister for Lands and Rural Resettlement Tendai Savanhu said the issue of tenure was key to food security.
“The Ministry has done its best to address the issue of 99-year leases so that banks can accept the documents as collateral. By mid-September we will have engaged banks on the amendment of the leases,” he said.
Minister of Heath and Child Care, Dr David Parirenyatwa encouraged farmers to produce healthy crops to ensure food security and nutrition at household and national level.
The Agro Business Dialogue was held under the theme “Transforming and Sustaining Agricultural Growth in the Light of Zim-Asset”.
The main objective was to come up with recommendations towards agriculture growth and form policy innovations that can be translated into action by Government and the private sector to influence positive changes in the economy.