Paidamoyo Mutsvairo Correspondent
Food insecurity is a global threat which is affecting almost every nation. Zimbabwe has not been spared.
The global food crisis has been triggered mainly by prolonged droughts due to climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and the on-going Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Given that the threat of food crisis has ripple effects which among others include, health complications, food price hikes and instability, the Government should continuously implement projects that empower locals, in a bid to boost food productivity.
Prices, especially of bread and mealie-meal have been skyrocketing on the back of supply disruptions and shortages, amid falling exports from Ukraine and Russia.
In efforts to empower the black majority and enhance agricultural production, in 2002, Government introduced the Land Reform Programme (LRP). Although the LRP faced backlashes from the international community to the extent that the United States and other European Union countries imposed economic and political sanctions on the country, the Government continued with its land redistribution programme.
Thus, Government remained committed to assisting resettled farmers through several action plans to increase productivity. For instance, smallholder farmers under the Command Agriculture Programme had been receiving inputs and technical support to enhance productivity.
Also, farmers have been receiving training in commercial and advanced farming techniques, farming implements through loans and aid and the sourcing of markets for their produce.
Thus, the Government remodelled the Command Agriculture Programme to incorporate the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) and Agribank.
Moreover, in March 2022, Government highlighted that it had begun redistribution of unused land that was given to black farmers during the First Republic.
Such a move depicts Government’s commitment to empower Zimbabweans through the vast fertile land which the country holds.
As pronounced and enunciated in Vision 2030, under the banner, “Leaving No Place and No One Behind,” it is Government’s wish that every Zimbabwean benefits from the country’s resources especially land.
To promote mechanisation and modernisation of the agricultural sector, in 2021, Government said it was working on improving lending terms of the Belarus and John Deere machinery and equipment for easier access by farmers.
The Belarus and John Deere mechanisation facilities which were launched by President Mnangagwa in 2020 are also designed to boost agriculture production and to promote food security.
Furthermore, Government’s adoption of the conservation farming method Pfumvudza/Intwasa, as a hedge against climate-change-induced food shortages is also aiding in promoting food security.
The Pfumvudza farming concept is a sustainable way of crop production intensification whereby farmers use few resources, expend energy on a smaller piece of land, thereby reducing labour.
Thus, farming through the Pfumvudza concept allows the country to gain economic stability, decrease food insecurity and empower farmers to not only feed the nation but other regional countries.
Pfvumvudza was recently recognised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), wherein it awarded a local research and farming institution, Foundation for Farming (FfF), with a Partnership Award. FAO said FfF’s Pfumvudza farming initiative helped about nine million Zimbabweans to achieve household food security.
A Kenya-based economist, Churchill OGUTU, was recently quoted in a Chinese publication, China Global Television Network (CGTN) urging African governments to focus on large-scale commercial farming in efforts to boost sustainable food security.
OGUTU said given that Africa possesses more than half of the world’s uncultivated arable land, there is need for governments to make use of the land so as to stop relying on surpluses of other countries outside the continent.
In that regard, Government’s programme to reallocate idle land to other aspiring black farmers could also be centred on large-scale commercial farming.
Similarly, chief executive officer of the Africa Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), Michael SUDARKASA, said the fertiliser price shock triggered by the Russia-Ukraine conflict highlighted the need for a continent-wide system of credit guarantees.
Failure by farmers to get adequate fertilisers could compromise yields. As such, to boost output, Government should consider finding ways of accessing enough farming inputs to equip small-scale and commercial farmers ahead of the 2022 to 2023 farming season.
Such empowerment will see local farmers becoming economically independent and at the same time improving the country’s economic growth.
In conclusion, considering that agriculture is the backbone of the country’s economy, whereby most Zimbabweans, largely the rural population derive their livelihoods from, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development should therefore ensure effective full implementation of all the country’s farming initiatives.
Also, there will be need for thorough monitoring of all the farming projects. Such a move will not only stimulate sustainable food security, but will also guarantee the country not to rely heavily on donors for food supplies.
Lastly, effective implementation of the farming projects will contribute to the attainment of Vision 2030, of transforming the country’s economy into an upper middle-class.