Govt buoyant as agric sector grows to US$7,8bn

Source: Govt buoyant as agric sector grows to US$7,8bn | Sunday Mail (Business)

Business Reporter

Government is optimistic agriculture will grow to more than US$8,2 billion within the next four years.

The sector grew to a better-than-expected US$7,8 billion in the past 12 months, driven by a stellar 2020/2021 farming season.

President Mnangagwa launched the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy in August last year, which seeks to achieve the targeted growth by 2025.

The strategy is a composite plan of action drawn from agriculture recovery and livestock growth.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said the massive growth in agriculture was a result of collaboration between Government and the private sector.

“In the first year of implementation, we have grown from US$5,8 billion to US$7,8 billion. This confirms that the target will be passed this year and agriculture will be a more than US$8,2 billion industry even by 2022, ahead of the initial deadline of 2025,” Dr Masuka said at an event on September 9 where Seed Co was commissioning its seed maize conditioning plant.

He said growth was driven by good rains across most parts of the country, better planning and Government’s agro-friendly policies.

“This was also supported by seed security as the Government, through various seed programmes, availed the seeds on time,” he said.

Before the 2020/2021 summer cropping season, Government distributed seed and other inputs through programmes such as Pfumvudza/Intwasa, Presidential Input Scheme and National Enhanced Crop Productivity Scheme (better known as Command Agriculture).

The normal to above-normal rains forecast for the 2021/2022 season, Dr Masuka added, were likely to give impetus to ongoing plans.

“The upcoming summer rainfall season is predicted to be a good one; therefore, seed companies such as Seed Co should continue to support various Government initiatives through ensuring that seed will be available when needed.”

Seed Co has already indicated that is has enough seed totalling 67 800 tonnes to meet demand. The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed company recently commissioned a US$13 million seed maize conditioning plant which enhances its lead time in seed production. Increased output in agriculture saw the sector’s contribution to GDP rising to at least 34 percent, which is “unprecedented”.

Such a recovery — driven by better harvests for maize, groundnuts and sorghum — has also led Treasury to revise its growth estimate upwards to 7,8 percent this year. The country is expected to harvest 2,7 million tonnes of maize this year, which would be the highest yield in 20 years.

Apart from the targeted agricultural growth, the Government is also targeting a US$12 billion mining industry driven by investments into the sector, firming commodity prices and new mining projects.

The tourism sector, which has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, is also envisaged to grow to US$5 billion by 2025.