Agric strategies yield fruits

02 Dec, 2022 - 00:12 0 Views
Agric strategies yield fruits Minister Masuka

The Herald

Bulawayo Bureau

STRATEGIES by the Government to ensure national food security are paying dividends with the country having grain reserves lasting 11 months, making the Cabinet committee on imports redun- dant for more than a year.

Cabinet had in the past established a committee on food imports to manage how the country buys grain to supple- ment local production.

But the adoption of the Agriculture and Food System Strategy in 2020 has resulted in real transformation in the country’s agriculture.

The policy aims to create an US$8,2 billion agriculture economy by 2025 and guarantee national food security.

In an interview, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Develop- ment Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said following measures adopted in the agriculture sector, the country is eliminating imports.

“In 2020 in August, the President put in place a radical transformative strategy for the agriculture sector called the Agriculture and Food System Strat- egy in which we envisaged making this country food secure. Then we even had a Cabinet committee on food importa- tion and now that Cabinet committee last met more than a year ago because as we speak, we have 560 000 metric tonnes of grains in the Grain Marketing Board. That is enough to supply us for

the next 11 months so the country is food secure,” said Dr Masuka.

“This year we have had a record wheat production of 80 000 ha which is unprecedented in the history of the country. Now we have harvested more than 360 000 metric tonnes which is already the highest which we have ever achieved.”

As a result of the Government’s transformation of the agriculture sector, tobacco output marginally grew 1 per- cent, to 213 million kg whilst incomes to the farmers grew by 10 percent to US$650 million.

The total export earnings from tobacco are projected to be US$1bil- lion this year. Maize production for the 2021/2022 season stood at 1, 5 million tonnes while soyabean output grew by 15 percent to 82 028 tonnes metric in 2021/22. The horticulture sector is on a rebound targeting export crops such as pecan nuts whose production increased significantly by 348 percent from 85,3 tonnes last season to 374 tonnes in the 2021/22 while production of blueberries increased sharply to 5000 tonnes in the 2021/2022 season.

Sugarcane production is estimated at six million tonnes which represents a three percent increase from 5,8 million tonnes in the 2020/2021 season.

Dr Masuka said the country intro- duced climate-proof farming methods to support commercial and smallholder farmers.

He said through the strategy Government has been able to support 3 mil- lion smaller holder farmers through the Presidential Inputs Scheme.

“We have made so much progress in terms of climate proofing agriculture at smallholder level through the Intwasa/ Pfumvudza programme, availing inputs to 3 million households, eliminating corruption in that space and also build- ing more dams and ensuring that there is conveyance,” said Dr Masuka.

Government, through the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, is also con- structing 12 high-impact dams across the country, three of them in Matabe- leland region.

The dams include Lake Gwayi Shangani and Ziminya Dam in Mata- beleland North and Tuli-Manyange Dam in Gwanda Matabeleland South.

Dr Masuka said the construction of dams will enable the country not to rely too much on rain-fed agriculture production.

“Now we have an ambitious pro- gramme to have 350 000 hectares irri- gated so that come rain come sunshine we will be able to produce enough for the country,” he said.

Dr Masuka said the Government is in the process of resuscitating the hor- ticulture sector and revamping mecha- nisation which is an enabler in ensuring the country achieves food security.

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