Victor Maphosa recently in Nyaitenge, Mutoko
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) president Mr Gilbert Houngbo has urged youths in Zimbabwe to embrace agriculture as a business that can transform and sustain their lives.
He made the remarks during a tour of Nyaitenge Irrigation Scheme in Mutoko on Tuesday.
In an interview with The Herald on the sidelines of the tour, Mr Houngbo said agriculture should be considered as employment just like any other source of income in Government or the private sector.
“Agriculture is a sector which Africa should take seriously to strengthen economic development, particularly in Zimbabwe where there is vast human capital and high level of education,” he said.
“What we need to do in Africa is to bring the youths on board. We need to urge the youths to embrace agriculture not as a way of survival but as a genuine way to earn a decent living just like other professionals.
“There is a smallholder farmer who made a presentation earlier here and confessed that farming has transformed his life such that even if he is called for a job in Harare, he will turn down the offer. That is what I would like to hear more and more from our youths,” he said.
Mr Houngbo commended the smallholder farmers in Mutoko and encouraged them to focus on development through farming and contribute to the attainment of the new dispensation’s Vision 2030.
“The human capital, the level of education and the agricultural techniques being used by smallholder farmers here is higher than we expected, no matter the marketing challenges they face, but the hard work here is commendable.
“Zimbabwe is a blessed nation with vast tracts of land for agriculture. The nation needs to get united and leave politics behind and focus on agriculture. This will contribute in achieving the 2030 vision,” he said.
Speaking at the same occasion, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Cde Vangelis Haritatos commended the visit by the IFAD president to Mutoko and said the ministry will implement his recommendations.
He said IFAD came at an opportune time when the new administration under President Mnangagwa was working hard to improve the agriculture sector and had declared that Zimbabwe is open for business.
“We are trying hard as Government to improve smallholder farmers. We welcome the IFAD president and his delegation. This visit by the vIFAD president really shows his dedication and it shows how hard our President Mnangagwa is opening our country to the world. So it is a great honour to have the IFAD president in our country,” Deputy Minister Haritatos said.
He assured the small-scale farmers that the challenges of marketing their goods will soon be a thing of the past as Government was looking into the matter.