Editorial Comment: Normal rains forecast should inspire farmers

Source: Editorial Comment: Normal rains forecast should inspire farmers | The Herald 02 SEP, 2019

Editorial Comment: Normal rains forecast should inspire farmers

The week begins with good news that the forthcoming rainy season will be normal across Southern African.

For a region reeling in the effects of El Nino-induced drought, meteorologists that made the promising forecast have become adorable bearers of an inspirational message.

As reported by our sister paper The Sunday Mail yesterday, more than 150 meteorologists from across the region who met at the 23rd Southern African Regional Climate Forum concurred that good rains are coming upon us.

For Zimbabwe, this optimistic communiqué carries loads of connotations that call more for action than celebration. As we celebrate the coming of abundant rains and anticipated showers of blessings, preparation of the ground on which the blessings will fall becomes the imperative action to take right now.

Agriculture is the backbone of our economy and, consequently, a prime driver of Vision 2030. On various platforms of discussions on local agriculture, there has been talk about restoring the nation to its breadbasket status of yesteryear. This is an achievable dream. The country can reclaim this vital position if pertinent efforts are aggregated towards the goal.

With such a drive in mind, President Mnangagwa’s administration has prioritised agriculture to steer the economic ship on a voyage towards the 2030 destination.

Initiatives such as Command Agriculture, Presidential Inputs Scheme and Agriculture Inputs Guarantee Scheme are meant to catalyse the process of agriculture restoration. We believe when such schemes are executed with diligence and nourished by nature’s adequate precipitation, the results will be fantastic.   

The 2017-18 season proved that, with good rains, such catalysts cannot only help the country realise its dreams, but also propel achievements beyond anticipations. The Command Agriculture initiative ensured a bumper harvest in the 2017-18 season and the same is possible in the upcoming season.

It needs all those directly involved in these empowerment processes to put their feet on the pedal and look straight ahead. The journey promises to be fruitful.

The Government has already started playing its part in preparation of the 2019-20 summer cropping season. As reported yesterday, procurement of inputs begins this week and distribution will start by the end of the month.

This should be a loud trumpet to farmers and all those involved in the long chain from procurement to distribution. It needs unity of purpose and a shared vision for the country to have anticipated yields.

Any unscrupulous elements in this purposeful agriculture chain should be weeded out. Any unprepared would-be beneficiaries deserve poking in the ribs. We commend the Government for stating that only farmers with a traceable record of repaying loans and producing high yields will benefit from the facilities on offer.

Lack of proper follow-up in such programmes can leave room for abuse and mismanagement, which would defeat the virtuous purpose of fortifying food security. It is time to prepare for a promising season ahead. It is time to work towards food security of the country and ensure another bumper harvest fills our silos.

Government’s preparedness for this noble cause is also evident in Treasury’s move to set aside $3,6 billion for agriculture.

The money will be channelled to areas of Command Agriculture, Presidential Inputs Support Scheme and Agriculture Inputs Guarantee Scheme.

Under Command Agriculture, 210 000 hectares will be for maize production while 30 000 will be set up for soyabeans. The deliberate support for these grains reflects the Government’s high concern with the issue of food security.

The Government’s commitment to feeding the nation is also mirrored in the input schemes that are meant to cushion farmers from high input prices. As far as funding and support are concerned, the ground has been prepared and there will be no reason for failure to produce if the rains come. The promise of good rains should also inspire farmers outside Government schemes to do their best to contribute to food security.

The same goes to producers of cash crops that bring in the much-needed foreign currency. A good rainy season is the best blessing for our country.

As we look ahead to the 2019-20 summer cropping season, everyone involved in agriculture should play their part. With full grain silos and lucrative agriculture exports, the country will surely get strong on the path to economic recovery.

The journey towards attaining an upper middle income economy status by 2030 will be made easier.

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