Elita Chikwati and Ellen Chasokela
GOVERNMENT says it will continue assisting farmers through the Command Agriculture programme until such a time the private sector can fund agriculture.
This was said by Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri yesterday while giving a lecture at the Zimbabwe National Defence University.
The lecture was on “The future prospects of agriculture in Zimbabwe with particular emphasis on Command Agriculture”.
Minister Shiri said through Command Agriculture prospects of Zimbabwe achieving national food security and economic transformation were bright.
He said Command Agriculture remains a vehicle through which the economy could be revived.
“To confirm this, His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe in his inauguration speech pointed out that under the ‘New Economic Order’ Government’s economic policy will also be anchored on agriculture.
“Command Agriculture is here to stay until such a time when Government is satisfied that the financial institutions can support the same levels of production without Government intervention. Any premature withdrawal by Government will be like abandoning the ship.
“There has to be alternative financing models in place; functional, not theoretical and once that has been established, Government will have no business to continue in the production directly except for the area of regulatory and capacity building; the training of farmers and provision of extension services,” said Minister Shiri.
Minister Shiri said Command Agriculture was a transitional arrangement which was not meant to replace the role of market forces and the role of financial institutions in financing agriculture.
“Once the private sector comes on board and starts financing agriculture, Government’s involvement shall only be limited to the regulatory role and capacity building.
“To ensure that the programme is fully funded, the financing mechanism is highly dependent on strong Public Private Partnerships (PPPs). In this kind of arrangement, Government invites private partners to fund the programme at a rate not exceeding four percent,” he said.