Takunda Maodza Assistant News Editor
Zimbabwe has attained national food self-sufficiency following last season’s bumper harvest during which the country surpassed the 1,4 million tonnes target in grain and maize production, President Mugabe has said.
National food self-sufficiency is a key goal of the economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation, one of whose key clusters identifies food security and nutrition as key drivers of economic revival.
Officially opening the 104th Harare Agricultural Show at the Exhibition Park yesterday, the President urged farmers to start preparing for the 2014-2015 season.
“I can also report that I have been to stands with exhibits of high quality products and services. This is natural and quite logical after a good rainy season.
“We are glad that our maize and grain production is set to surpass 1.4 million tonnes, enough to ensure national food self-sufficiency. For the first time after many years of drought, Zimbabwe has now attained this level of production.”
The President said besides grains, production of other crops was on an upward trend.
“Tobacco production also con-tinued on an upward trend, now being valued at over US$676 million from 167 million kilogrammes realised during the 2012-2013 season.
“Generally, cotton, sugar and horticultural crops did slightly better than in the last season. Overall crop production is much more improved this season. We hope this trend will continue,” President Mugabe said.
“I must this season commend all the players in the agricultural sector, that is both the input suppliers and the growers. All stakeholders are, however, urged to be fully prepared ahead of the 2014/2015 agricultural season.”
President Mugabe said following Zanu-PF’s resounding victory in last year’s harmonised elections, Government embarked on the national socio-economic development strategy, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.
He said Zim Asset was a robust and comprehensive strategy anchored on four mutually re-enforcing clusters, Food Security and Nutrition, Social Services and Poverty Reduction, Infrastructure and Utilities, and Value Addition and Beneficiation.
President Mugabe said of the four Food and Nutrition was the most closely linked and associated with agriculture.
“In keeping with Zim Asset objectives that are embodied in the Food and Nutrition cluster, this year’s Show has adopted its theme as “Sustaining and Transforming Agricultural Growth”. Through Zim Asset, we have targeted transforming the agricultural sector into a more inclusive, resilient, vibrant and formidable national economic pillar. In order to achieve our objectives, we ought to pay attention to, and prioritise, the value addition and beneficiation of our various products,” he said.
Added President Mugabe: “We begin by focusing mainly on our agricultural products, since agriculture is the mainstay of Zimbabwe’s economy. While we have already taken some steps to value-add tobacco, tea and cotton subsectors, which is still inadequate, much more still needs to be done for us to fully benefit from our resources. Zimbabwe cannot continue to remain a country of predominantly raw material and unbeneficiated primary product exporter.”
He said the Harare Agricultural Show provided exhibitors, Government, regional and international organisations, and the public with a unique opportunity to meet, interact and transact various aspects of business.
“Similarly, my tour today to the various stands provided me with that opportunity of the much needed interaction with captains of industry. I am informed, once again, that the uptake of exhibition space is 100 percent. In addition to the commendable representation by local companies, spanning the spectrum of agriculture, companies from Africa and beyond, are also well represented. From Africa, Zambia, Ghana, Botswana, Kenya, and South Africa are represented. We are happy that some of these companies and countries have become annual participants at this Show. We highly appreciate their definite expression of confidence in our agricultural sector, in particular, and our economy in general,” President Mugabe said.
He said climate change was real as manifested by extreme weather conditions like floods and prolonged dry spells.
President Mugabe assured Zimbabweans that Government was embarking on various measures like the rehabilitation of irrigation schemes and dam construction to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.
He cited the introduction of improved drought tolerant crop varieties as yet another measure aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change.
President Mugabe stressed the need to educate Zimbabweans to embrace correct farming methods that increase productivity.
On his arrival at the exhibition park towards midday, President Mugabe toured a number of stands. There were 750 exhibitors from across the globe.