Journeying towards Vision 2030, agriculturally

23 Jun, 2022 - 00:06 0 Views
Journeying towards Vision 2030, agriculturally The food crops production category decreased by an average of 47 percent in the 2021/2022 cropping season with specific sub-sector growth levels shown above . . .

The Herald

Dr John Basera, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development

Introduction

Zimbabwe is an agrarian economy with most of the country’s sectors being directly and indirectly linked to the agricultural subsector. Based on these linkages, it is imperative that the sector performs well to breathe economic life into the rest of the economic sectors and ultimately the overall economy.

 The sector provides employment and incomes directly and indirectly for about 70 percent of the population, supplies 65 percent of the raw materials required by local industries and contributes 40 percent of total export earnings.

 Agriculture is also key in the pursuit of growth of the rural economy as the sector is up to four times more powerful at reducing poverty than any other sector. In fact, agriculture is the Vision 2030 accelerator; meaning getting agriculture right present great opportunities for inclusive rural industrialization, transformation and economic development.

 Guided by the aspirations underlying Africa Agenda 2063; Maputo Declaration (2003) on Africa-led Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP); Malabo Declaration (2014) on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods; United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; Transitional Stabilisation Plan (2018-2020); the first five-year National Development Plan (2021-2025) and Vision 2030, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development committed to transforming the sector by rolling out initiatives that influence performance of various agricultural sub-sectors.

 Pursuant and consistent with President Mnangagwa’s clarion call to have all hands on deck in pursuit of the ultimate Vision 2030, the ministry came up with, and is rolling out programmes bound and guided by the following blueprints:

Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy (2020-2024);

Agriculture Recovery Plan (2020-2025)

Horticulture Recovery and Growth Plan (2020 -2025);

Livestock Recovery and Growth Plan (2020-2025);

Accelerated Irrigation Rehabilitation and Development Plan;

Farm Mechanisation Facilities and

Integrated Agricultural Information Management System (AIMS).

 All the sub-sector blueprints were aligned to aspirations underlying the First Five-Year National Development Strategy (NDS 1) and crafted to engender the envisaged agricultural transformation agenda whose six outcomes are food security, import substitution, diversified exports, value addition, employment creation, and improved incomes and standards of living of the people. 

 The Agriculture Recovery Plan as a key flagship Plan was endorsed by the Cabinet and launched by the President in line with his of empowering Zimbabwe and propelling all citizens into an upper middle-income status by 2030.

 The immediate target was to reverse the continued structural decline in food production, more importantly, in all agricultural value chains, including the grains and oilseeds sector for household, national food and nutrition security targeting import substitution.  

 The best and smartest export any economy can ever wish for is not to import what the economy can competitively produce locally, hence, the import substitution thrust.

 The Agriculture Recovery Plan is being implemented in a space where the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy broadly spells out the roadmap of ensuring that the agriculture sector achieves a US$8,2 billion economy by 2025.

 

Key strategic interventions and progress tracker

 

The impact of climate change and variability on the agricultural sector cannot be overemphasized.  The Government, through the ministry, has over the last few years taken deliberate interventions to climate-proof the agricultural sector as occurrence of droughts is becoming frequent and more pronounced with devastating impact on vulnerable farming households. 

 Climate change effects and variability pose the greatest challenge on our quest to ensure food and nutritional security for the country. Proactively, through the ministry, the Government resolved to tackle this threat head-on. And, various programmes, including the Pfumvudza/Intwasa initiative, accelerated water harvesting and dam construction, irrigation rehabilitation and development; were initiated and implemented in the various facets of the broader agricultural arena.

The decrease is on account of poor rainfall distribution in space and time across the country. There were incessant rains in January followed by prolonged dry spell in the first week of February to end of March. The country is food secure, on the account of carryover stock from the bumper 2020/21 season of over 500 000MT and the current projected 1.8m total cereal production for 2021/22 season. The total cereal available is 2.3m MT, against a national annual requirement of 2.2m MT, leaving a surplus of over 100 000MT. 

Cash crops

During the same 2021/22 season, cash crops production performed as follows: tobacco decreased by 8 percent, cotton decreased by 41 percent and soyabeans increased by 15 percent.

Livestock

The ministry is in a drive to contain and eradicate the scourge of animal diseases, especially January disease, which claimed in excess of 500 000 cattle in a period of four years to date. The ministry introduced intensive blitz dipping programme as well as blitz tick grease programme under the Presidential Livestock Programme supporting rural livestock farmers. January disease-related deaths and cases decreased by over 47 percent in 2021 after the religious implementation of the above stated interventions.

 The tick grease programme has been in existence for two years now, and is implemented nationwide covering the eight rural provinces targeting distribution of a million kilogrammes of tick grease to 1 million households. The target was surpassed, and to date 1,069 million kilogrammes of tick grease have been distributed across all targeted rural provinces. The launch of the Livestock Recovery and Growth Plan saw the resuscitation of over 400 dip tanks in 2021.

The country has a total of 4 000 dip tanks of which about 75 percent are functioning. Hence, the resuscitation blitz targeting 1 000 dip tanks in 2022. For the country to sustainably eradicate January disease and other tick-borne diseases, we have to dip all the animals religiously following the 5;4;4 dipping regime for the next two years. Thus, the move by the Government to have functional dipping infrastructure.

 Further, the Government is accelerating the local manufacture of dipping chemicals, working with the private sector for import substitution. The import substitution drive will have an ultimate effect of reducing the cost of dipping chemicals by over 52 percent, and make acaricides affordable to the generality of the country’s livestock farmers.

 

Other initiatives in the livestock sub-sector include:

Provincial integrated youth hubs where youths in all the 10 districts were empowered with a seed support of 600 heifers by the President.

The ministry is aggressively exploring ways to revitalise all the 450 smallholder irrigation schemes, totalling 26 000ha. Several projects were rolled out to increase the area under functional irrigation, and the status of implementation is as tabulated above . . .

Gonarezhou Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Fence project where a perimeter of 164km in the Gonarezhou National Park is targeted for fencing, and to date 108,5km have been erected. This project is targeted at reducing and containment of buffalo-livestock interaction, since buffaloes are the transmitting agent of FMD. The effectiveness of this project allows farmers to avert loss of cattle through the diseases, and beef and related products traded will be safe for human consumption.

Establishment of Mazowe Bull Centre and Semen Processing Laboratory was completed in addition to existing capacity at Chinhoyi State University in Mashonaland West Province. The programme is aimed at Genetic improvement of the national cattle herd focusing mainly on the communal herd where in-breeding is on the increase through an artificial insemination programme, which was launched in the first quarter of 2022 in Mhondoro District.

Local production and distribution of 15 million doses of Newcastle disease vaccine was completed, and all the eight rural provinces have benefited.

Survey of 9 100km2   of tsetse-infested areas, namely Kariba, Hurungwe, Makonde, Mudzi, Mbire and Chipinge districts was completed with the intention to bring more land under crop and livestock production.

Presidential Rural Poultry Pass-On Scheme (10 chicks per household) targeting 450 000 beneficiaries, and the national launch is expected in July 2022. The programme primarily targets up-scaling household nutrition and incomes in pursuance of the Vision 2030 objectives of improved and increased value creation, and incomes and livelihoods at household and farm-hold levels.

Presidential Rural Goat Pass-On Scheme targeting 600 000 beneficiaries, with the national launch expected in September 2022.

Presidential Silage Input Programme for Smallholder dairy farmers supported 1 498 dairy farmers and 1 312 ha of maize for silage were cultivated in the 2021/22 season.

Legume Pasture Production input distribution targeting 515 000 farmers, and to date 307 000 beneficiaries received inputs for pasture.

The silage and legume pasture programmes lowered the feed costs and improved viability in the dairy sector. Monthly milk production has increased by 14 percent in February and 23 percent in March this year as compared to the same period last year. The dairy sector is now on a rebound as it grew by 4 percent from about 75 million litres to about 80 million litres in 2021.

Climate proofing agriculture

Accelerated irrigation rehabilitation and development programmes are the panacea to climate-proofing of the agricultural, sector which is vulnerable to climate change effects and variability.  

A two pronged approach; Rehabilitation (Quick Fix Programme) and Development (Full Kit) have been explored and deployed since 2020. Quick Fix entails rehabilitation of non-functional irrigation, while Full Kit involves establishing new irrigation conveyance infrastructure, capitalising on the numerous water bodies the country is endowed with.

 The ministry is implementing the Accelerated National Irrigation Rehabilitation and Development Programme aiming to increase the area under functional irrigation from 175 000ha in 2020 to 350 000ha by 2025. Flagship programmes, such as Smallholder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme (SIRP), co-founded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), OFID and the Government of Zimbabwe, Turnkey Irrigation Programmes, NEAPS (National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme) supported by Maka Resources and CBZ Bank and Pedstock 1 and 2 Facilities administered through the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC), are aimed at harnessing the country’s water bodies potential of irrigating over two million hectares. An additional 6 000ha under construction will be ready by the 2022 winter season.

Also, the Government is prioritising water harvesting and dam construction to ensure adequate water supply for human, expanded industrial and agricultural use.

Recently, the President commissioned Marovanyati Dam in Buhera, Manicaland Province and Muchekeranwa Dam near Marondera, Mashonaland East Province, demonstrating the commitment by the highest office of the country to this cause. It is hoped that urban water woes should be a thing of the past upon completion of Gwayi-Shangani Dam and Kunzvi Dam for Bulawayo and its environs, and the Harare Metropolitan, respectively.

Further, a greenbelt will be established benefiting rural households affected by the Gwayi-Shangani Dam construction and along the pipeline. The progress on dam construction is as follows: Kunzvi DAM (overall progress is at 11 percent); Semwa Dam (overall progress 41,5 percent); Tuli-Manyange Dam (overall progress  26 percent); Gwayi-Shangani Dam (overall progress 61 percent); and Chivhu Dam (overall progress 95 percent). The Government is outlaying over US$1,7 billion on over 10 dam and water projects throughout the country. Other dam construction projects include Bindura Dam, Ziminya, Dande Dam and Tunnel.

 

Farm Mechanisation facilities

The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development is seized with speeding up mechanisation programmes (importation of farm machinery and equipment) in order to mechanise and modernise the sector by increasing the tillage and combining capacities by approximately 300 000 hectares and 200 000 hectares, respectively.

Several flagship mechanisation programmes, including Belarus Phase 1, Belarus Phase 2, John Deere Facility, and the Bain/BancABC Mechanisation Facility were consummated, and are being rolled out to upscale mechanisation levels in the sector targeting A1 and A2 farmers.

These programmes are administered through banks namely, CBZ, AFC, Ecobank, Stanbic and BancABC, who on-lend the equipment to farmers on an end user pay basis over tenor periods ranging from two to five years.

 The Government created two agricultural equipment leasing companies, which are AFC Leasing and an agricultural leasing vehicle through ARDA. These institutions were capitalised with equipment worth over US$22 million to hire out mechanisation services to farmers at affordable rates.

 The sector aims to get to a point where a farmer doesn’t necessarily need to own a piece of sophisticated and expensive equipment, but the services must be readily and affordably available.

A Smallholder Mechanisation Development Alliance (SMDA) was created aimed at mechanising the smallholder sector. Over 600 lead farming households are initially targeted in the first pilot phase through AFC and its partners in the alliance. 

Mechanisation services are fundamental in improving agricultural production efficiencies and productivity levels, which are key active ingredients in the agricultural transformation process. 

 

Pfumvudza/Intwasa initiative

 

The Climate-Proofed Presidential Input Support Programme targeted to climate proof the smallholder food production sub-sector. Countrywide adoption of conservation agriculture principles and tenets is being witnessed in minimum soil disturbance to maintain the soil structure, mulching, and religious adoption of crop rotations.

 The programme aims to inculcate a new culture of producing more for less and more on less, and seeks to transition smallholder farmers from subsistence farming to commercial smallholder farming. Thus, it is a Vision 2030 accelerator programme as it seeks to upscale value creation and incomes at household level targeting over three million households in the 2022/23 summer season, up from 2,3 million in its first year of implementation in 2020.

In its first year of implementation, the programme contributed 41 percent to total maize production in the 2020/21 season. This saw the country breaking maize production records by reaching 2 717 171 tonnes and over 350 000 tonnes of traditional grains. Total grain output reached over three million tonnes against a national annual requirement of 2,2 million tonnes, leaving a surplus of over 800 000 tonnes for the first time in many years. National average maize productivity grew sharply from 0,5 tonnes per hectare in the 2019/20 season to 1,4 tonnes per hectare in the 2020/21 season, mainly because of the religious implementation of these flagship programmes.

 

National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme (NEAPS)

 

One of the cross-cutting imperatives in the NDS 1 is crowding-in the participation of the private sector in key and strategic sectors of the economy, agriculture included. 

The NEAPS is a Government-facilitated and financial services sector-funded scheme which supports and contracts A1 and A2 farmers on over 200 000ha of strategic commercial crops such as maize, wheat, soyabeans and traditional grains for import substitution.

 During the 2020/21 season the NEAPS contributed to over 30 percent to the total maize output. The flagship programme also saw wheat production increasing from about 100 000 tonnes in 2019 to 212 000 tonnes in 2020 to over 330 000 tonnes in 2021 against a national annual requirement of over 360 000 tonnes.

This 2022 winter wheat season the country is aiming to attain wheat self-sufficiency ‘at any cost’ by targeting 75 000ha (over 380 000 ha at five tonnes/hectare) through various initiatives, mainly private sector-led.

 Over the past three winter seasons, private sector participation has been increasing from 8 000ha in 2020 and doubled to 16 000ha in 2021. The private sector surpassed its target of 23 000ha (now over 25 000ha) of wheat this 2022 winter season through the Food Crops Contractors Association (FCCA), which is a syndicate of private millers, processors and commodity contract farming companies.

The expectation is to have agriculture financing led by the private sector, including banks and commodity contractors. This incredible appetite by the private sector to support local production is testimony to the Governments clarion call to encourage and persuade users of agricultural commodities to fund production of at least 40 percent of their respective annual agricultural raw materials requirements.

 

Joint venture framework for optimised land utilisation

 

The Government approved the Agricultural Joint Venture Framework, which is a matchmaking platform between landowners and investors, and is key to harnessing the God given advantages (land and water resources) into economic and financial advantages at farm-hold levels. To date the ministry has approved close to 2 000 joint ventures, which translates to over 150 000ha since 2020.

It is a requirement that all joint ventures must be registered and approved by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development with the aim to safeguard the gains of the land reform programme, and to protect the land holder, the investor and the investments. A joint venture database for the purposes of matchmaking available under-utilised and unproductive land units with investors is being developed.

 

Partnerships

 

Sixty-seven percent of Zimbabweans resides in rural areas, hence, pro-poor inclusive development programmes are invaluable in laying the necessary foundation for Zimbabwe to achieve its commitments under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 The ministry is directly and indirectly responsible for SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 13 (climate action), SDG 14 (life under water) and guided by SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals).

The Second Republic’s efforts of international engagement and re-engagement with a view to cooperate and collaborate for the achievement of SDGs enabled the forging of partnerships with development partners to address some of the challenges imposed on Zimbabwe by climate change effects and variability.

The partnerships led to the rolling out of Small Irrigation Revitalisation Programme (SIRP), co-supported by IFAD and the Government of Zimbabwe, UNDP Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund, Green Climate Fund Project titled “Building Climate Resilience to Agriculture Livelihoods in Southern Zimbabwe”, and Zimbabwe Agriculture Growth Programme.

Further, pipeline partnerships initiatives include Smallholder Agriculture Cluster Project, Resilience Agriculture Cluster Project, supported by IFAD, among many. 

Several projects are at different stage of completion to ensure that safe and portable water is available to every Zimbabwean. The Government of Zimbabwe mobilised resources to achieve a lasting solution on this endeavour. The key projects are tabulated above . . .

SIRP will climate-proof 6 100ha through irrigation development and rehabilitation, while the GCF project will develop, equip and rehabilitate 1 450 ha of irrigable land. The ministry has also partnered with other organisations and nations, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Kuwait and other line Ministries. This is in light of the Whole of Government Approach in driving its mandate to feed the nation, develop and transform rural livelihoods for rural development.

All these initiatives are meant to transform the sector in a manner that builds capacity to withstand the vagaries of nature, and more importantly, focused on smallholder farmers (youth and women in particular) under the banner of leaving no one behind as pronounced and enunciated in the President’s Vision 2030 and in the Africa Agenda 2063.

 Fisheries and aquatic resources projects

Fish farming is a critical subsector with huge potential for economic and livelihoods impact. Therefore, necessary legal instruments are being developed to harmonise fisheries and aquaculture development in the country.

 A Five-Year Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Plan was produced and awaits necessary approval by the Cabinet.

 In 2021, the President launched the Presidential Community Fisheries Scheme at Muchekeranwa Dam. The programme seeks to address household nutrition and income as well as promoting commercial fish cage culture. At present, 300 dams are targeted for stocking in 2022 for the communities. A further, 1 200 dams have been identified for stocking by year 2025. 

 Additionally, the ministry is pursuing a Cluster Village Integrated Farming Hubs (Jinjika Model). This model is riding on the Presidential borehole drilling programme, where over 25 000 of solar-powered boreholes are being targeted by 2025. The established farming hubs are expected to benefit over 50 households.

 The model farming hub will have four components, namely: a village nutrition/income garden with drip irrigation, a village orchard, fishponds, piped water scheme, grading and storage sheds and free range poultry run.

Mainstreaming of women and youths

 

All of the ministry’s programmes encapsulate a deliberate goal of empowering youth and women, more importantly to tap and exploit the demographic dividend where youth and women comprise of 62 percent and 52 percent of the population, respectively.

As such, most of the programmes are subscribed by these cohorts, and upon reflection, 54 percent of women benefited from the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme, while all provincial centres of excellence are 100 percent constituted by youths; the beneficiaries of the land are allocated by the President for sole use as youth agricultural innovation hubs. Youth and women empowerment permeates all the objects underpinning NDS 1.

 

Extension delivery support system

 

The whole transformation agenda is anchored on a responsive Extension Delivery Support System that aspires to achieve increased mobility, appropriate training and equipping with digital technologies for effective technical backstopping, and coaching of farmers with special emphasis on Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and inculcation of the farming as a business culture.

This helps to ensure climate change adaptation, boost productivity, food security; household value creation and promote agriculture as an engine of pro-poor and inclusive economic growth and ultimately consolidate the gains of the Land Reform Programme.

 The President sourced over 6 000 motorbikes, and to date over 5 000 have been delivered and distributed to Veterinary and Agritex officers. Over 6 000 tablets were procured and distributed to extension staff. A robust extension services provision system is a prerequisite ingredient in the agriculture transformation jigsaw.

 

Conclusion

 

The agricultural sector is crossing an inflexion point, and taking centre stage in the attainment of Vision 2030 imperatives. The sectoral blueprints and programmes are anchored on the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy that is aligned to the National Development Strategy 1.

The aim is to transform the sector from a US$5,8 billion agriculture economy, as of 2020, to US$8,2 billion by 2025, contributing at least 20 percent to national gross domestic product by that year.

In 2021, the sector grew by over 36 percent to US$8,1 billion.  A year later the sector has achieved what was envisaged to be attained in five years. The sector is poised for more growth as the ministry rolls out the pro-rural agricultural initiatives.

If we get our  agriculture right, then we are on the right track to getting everything else right, including, and ultimately, the Vision 2030 imperatives, which entails leaving no one behind, no place behind, no demography behind, no village, ward, district and province behind in light of devolution, while leaving no stone unturned.

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