Source: Zim can fund own programmes —ED | The Herald June 8, 2017
Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Zimbabwe has capacity to finance its own developmental programmes as evidenced by the success of Command Agriculture which was bankrolled wholly by local institutions, Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.He was speaking at an inaugural Command Agriculture multi-stakeholder coordinating workshop in Harare yesterday.
The workshop, held to review the 2016-17 Command Agriculture Programme, was attended by senior Government officials including Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha, State Security Minister Kembo Mohadi, the Office of the President and Cabinet, Provincial Ministers, Service Chiefs, farmers unions, prospective financiers and input suppliers.
Acting President Mnangagwa said funding was a major challenge when Command Agriculture was launched last year, before local businesses realised its potential.
“When we initially proposed this model, our biggest task and challenge was how are we going to finance it knowing attitude yaChinamasa and (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John) Mangudya,” Cde Mnangagwa said.
“Fortunately, when we asked the private sector to come on board the finances that were put on the table were more than what we required. Nothing came from outside Zimbabwe,” he said.
“So ourselves in our various sub-sectors and endeavours in the economy have the capacity to finance our own programmes and this is an example where we have done it ourselves,” he said.
Command Agriculture was modelled along Public Private Partnerships where financiers directly pay suppliers for inputs.
Farmers will repay for the inputs they received through grain to the Grain Marketing Board via a stop-order facility. Acting President Mnangagwa applauded the private sector, particularly Sakunda, for assisting Government fund Command Agriculture.
He also saluted President Mugabe for coming up with the initiative on Command Agriculture. “The essential ingredient for success in agriculture is strong political will at the highest level,” he said.
Quoting from head of agriculture at the African Union Commission, Rhoda Tusiime, Cde Mnangagwa said “while success in agriculture does not have many drivers, leadership is crucial. There must be a key political champion at the head of State level to steer and champion a vision on agricultural revolution”.
He continued; “It is in this respect that I want to thank His Excellency the President and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces for providing guidance and leadership in this agricultural initiative when he outlined the 10-point plan which emphasized on revitalising agriculture, agro-processing and advancing beneficiation and value addition to agricultural and mining products,” he said.
He said no farmers was forced into the programme.
“Contrary to the widely held view that people are compelled to give up land, they actually joined the programme voluntarily. But once in, they should conform to its expectations and requirements. Because of the name command, some get afraid. You join the programme voluntarily and leave it voluntarily but the train continues to go and grow,” he said.
“To the doubting Thomases, out of the 400 000 hectares we needed, the offer of hectares that was brought to our table reached 479 000 ha until tati hoo. Achingovuya, achingovuya mahectares freely and voluntarily. So our people are eager to produce,” said Acting President Mnangagwa.
He said Command Agriculture programme was a success although it faced challenges, including late disbursements of inputs, a fall armyworm outbreak and unsually heavy rains.
“Inspite all these challenges, the current assessment by the Ministry of Agriculture assures us that we are going to have enough food for ourselves and say bye bye to the importation of maize by Zimbabweans,” the Acting President said.
“Contracted farmers were committed to deliver five tonnes per hectare. Most farmers produced more than five tonnes per hectare. But the five tonnes per hectare are enough to cover loans the farmer is getting as the cost of production per hectare is between $900 and $1 200,” he said.
Acting President Mnangagwa said at $390 per tonne offered by GMB, the financier was already guaranteed that for each hectare of Command Agriculture there was enough safeguard for his investment.
The farmer was equally protected, he said. He said committing farmers to pay back loans created a sense of responsibility and respect for contracts.
“Kuya kuti tinongo piwa zvavaMugabe mahara, pfungwa idzodzo ngadzitame kuchimera pfungwa dzekuti tinofanira kubhadhara chikwereti,” said Acting President Mnangagwa.
He said there was need for infrastructural development, including supplying farmers with crop dryers to ensure they harvest early to prepare for the next crop.
Acting President Mnangagwa commended the press for its comprehensive and informative reports on Command Agriculture saying they helped raise awareness of the programme.
He noted that adequate food ensured peace and stability in the country. Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said irrigation development remained a key strategy for the nation.
“Zimbabwe has potential irrigable area of 3 million hectares both for crop and livestock production,” Dr Made said. “We have already identified more land for irrigation. Zimbabwe has the potential of being a net exporter of all products,” he said.