Samuel Kadungure in HEADLANDS
Three thousand youths in Makoni District have been assisted by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa to secure tractors and tillage accessories from the AFC Leasing Company to mechanise their farming operations and ameliorate land preparations for this coming season.
The Makoni District Youth Empowerment Programme was launched on Friday by Minister Mutsvangwa, who was represented by the Zanu PF provincial chairlady Cde Happy Nyakuedzwa, in Headlands.
The event was graced by senior officials from AFC, Empowerbank and the Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank.
A majority of beneficiaries fall under the Headlands Small-Scale Farmers Association (HSSFA), led by Zanu PF Youth League member, Cde Innocent Magutakuona.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the programme was meant to empower youths with capital finance, agricultural implements and boost their productive capacity towards attainment of Vision 2030 of an empowered upper middle income economy.
“To attain this goal, we must achieve a Gross National Income (GNI) of US$5 000, which can only be realised when we have harnessed the productive potential of all our human capital, which includes the youth. This programme could, therefore, not have come at a more opportune time than now when our agricultural sector has been buoyed by successive seasons of abundance owing to extensive Government support and widespread farmers’ cooperation.
“These favourable conditions must now see our young men and women taking an effective role in Zimbabwe’s economic and social development,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the development dovetails with Government’s broad-based empowerment agenda, as enunciated in the National Development Strategy (NDS1), the National Youth Policy, devolution agenda and Constitution.
“These documents place the youth at the centre of all developmental initiatives as they constitute an important constituency as we seek to attain upper middle income status by 2030,” she said. “Our productive capacity as a country can only be sustainably secured if it is invested in our youths.
“This is why Government is increasingly turning to young men and women through financial inclusion vehicles.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said through the initiatives being spearheaded by President Mnangagwa, Government was now able to direct the ambition and hunger of youths towards greater participation in national economic processes.
No nation, said Minister Mutsvangwa, can develop sustainably when its youths were trapped in endemic poverty.
“It is vitally important to ensure that we allow them to play a constructive role in nation building in such a way that the future of the country is guaranteed and in safe and responsible hands,” she said.
“Youth constitute 43 percent of our population, which is almost half of the country’s human population. We are also aware that female youths outnumber their male counterparts, hence we need to remain alive to these facts as we implement development programmes.
“We must be careful not to leave this huge section of our population behind just because they are young.”
Young farmers are putting money and efforts in farming, leveraging on new technologies, investments in research and development and efforts to rejuvenate irrigation, resulting in a transformation of agriculture in Manicaland.
Minister Mutsvangwa said through agriculture, youths now had a source of employment.
“As Government, we have, therefore, come to support such enterprising youth to ensure that they not only succeed individually, but make significant contribution to the national output, hence ensuring food security for our country,” she said.
Empowerbank manager Mr Hillary Nyanhongo said they disbursed $2 700 000 to the HSSFA, and will assist young farmers with working capital, finance for inputs, training and extension services, transport and logistics, market linkages, trellising and irrigation equipment.
Cde Magutakuona said they paid $1,2 million to AFC for the tractors, and the balance would be used to procure fuel and administrative costs.
The youths are targeting 3 000 hectares in the district.
“We want to thank Minister Mutsvangwa for helping us to secure these tractors, otherwise it would have just remained a pie in the sky,” he said.
AFC Leasing general manager Mr Shepard Shoko said they will deliver planters and disc harrows next week, adding that the programme will be rolled out in all provinces to speed up summer preparations.