Farmers must prepare adequately for the forthcoming cropping season and take advantage of the expected good rains to maximise production, boost their own incomes and by increasing harvests give Zimbabwe food self-sufficiency.
After several poor seasons with erratic rainfalls, La-Nina weather conditions, which are associated with rains, are expected to prevail over Zimbabwe and most Southern African countries during the coming season.
Officially launching the second Zimbabwe Agricultural Sector Survey in Harare last week, Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Permanent Secretary Dr John Basera said meteorological experts had given a new ray of hope to agriculture.
“We are delighted because these are the weather patterns that have always brought us good harvests,” he said. “If the good rains fall, this will happen during an opportune time for our country, when Government has rolled out the Pfumvudza concept, which promotes conservation farming, while empowering small-scale farmers with inputs to improve harvests.
“This is critical for our country because food security is an important part of our lives, we must stock up our reserves from the grassroots to the national level. In doing so, we must remember that agriculture forms the bedrock of Zimbabwe’s economy.”
Dr Basera warned that the rains could be accompanied by heavy storms which may destroy homes, crops and livestock.
“We must, therefore, prepare adequately, where we can, in this regard to protect our assets from adverse weather conditions, especially during the onset of the rainfall season,” he said.
“Farmers provided raw materials for the manufacturing industry. The bulk of our industries depend on agriculture for inputs. For them to produce at full throttle, they must access cheaper, locally produced raw materials, which determines the price of goods in shops.
“Goods produced from local raw materials are generally cheaper compared to those produced from imported materials because of distances involved and other factors.”
While Zimbabwean farmers normally insist on using global pricing, the huge savings in transport costs mean local supplies can be cheaper without exploiting farmers.
The survey is a comprehensive study on the state of the country’s agricultural sector and is a joint product of efforts by the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society (ZAS) with support from CBZ Holdings.
Dr Basera commended ZAS and the Africa Economic Development Strategies (AEDS) for their efforts in finding solutions to challenges affecting agriculture.
The survey aims to establish production trends of various crops and livestock, establishing the state of agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation and grain storage and establishing the role of agricultural sector produce markets in Zimbabwe.