Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter—
The manufacturing and agro-processing industries are set for a major boost due to the anticipated success of the Government-led Command Agriculture programme. The initiative is expected to reduce imports of raw materials.
Command Agriculture will see farmers producing two million tonnes of maize from 400 000 hectares of land. The programme is set to expand to wheat and soyabeans, and this will boost the baking and oil expressers industry and create employment in the process.
Millers and stockfeed manufacturers will also benefit through the reduction of imports. Bakers’ Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Givemore Mesoemvura said agro-processors were excited by Command Agriculture as they would now have the chance to get raw materials locally.
He said the fact that Command Agriculture was expanding to wheat production meant the local industry would not have to import wheat. “We had our own initiatives of boosting production to ensure raw materials,” said Mr Mesoemvura. “Command Agriculture is also complementing our projects.
“Command Agriculture is going to boost wheat production and that means we will reduce importation. If raw materials are accessed locally, it will reduce costs and also boost production. This will also create employment throughout the value chain.”
Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe leader Mr Tafadzwa Musarara said millers appreciated Government for coming up with Command Agriculture. The association has been importing maize and wheat for a number of years, but the success of Command Agriculture means they will buy grain locally.
“We have pledged to buy 800 000 tonnes of maize produced by farmers under Command Agriculture,” said Mr Musarara. “This is a noble programme as it will promote production of maize.
“Farmers are assured of inputs and a market and at the same time the country will be self-sufficient in terms of grain requirements. Other countries such as Russia have produced maize and wheat through command farming and we can do the same.”
Farmers and stakeholders in the agricultural industry have expressed confidence that they will achieve the targeted yields of five tonnes per hectare, thanks to the good rains being received in many parts of the country.
Command Agriculture will be extended to wheat and soyabeans and Government is already working on the total hectarage it requires for wheat production.