The Government is working on a raft of transformative interventions in agriculture to enhance the sector’s performance and increase its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and ensure national food security, according to Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka.
The planned policy interventions will be implemented under the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy (AFTSS 2020-25), which aims to expand the contribution of agriculture to the economy from 12 percent to 20 percent by 2025.
Part of the overarching interventions entail increasing the participation of the rural people in the mainstream economy through rolling out a Presidential rural horticultural scheme targeting at least 1,8 million households.
Dr Masuka revealed this while making a presentation at the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) virtual economic symposium and 2020 manufacturing survey launch, which ended on Friday.
Dr Masuka unpacked the Government’s ambitious and far reaching agriculture transformation plan that cuts across corporate value chains, rural and commercial farming and all State-owned or controlled agricultural institutions.
Further, the Minister revealed that part of six major objectives of the AFTSS policy strategy was to ensure the country attains 100 percent food security in the next four to five years.
The policy targets increasing household incomes for farmers by 100 percent, 80 percent import substitution, creation of 1 million new jobs, 40 percent increase in value addition and beneficiation and 40 percent growth in exports.
Dr Masuka said the AFTSS is anchored on a number of pillars that include the agriculture recovery plan (soyabean, maize and wheat), livestock development and growth plan, horticulture development plan and the agriculture information management systems.
Already, the ongoing interventions will see the country putting 70 000
hectares under winter wheat to add 280 000 tonnes to the current expected harvest from the summer crop of 162 000 tonnes.
In terms of horticulture, the minister said each of the 1,8 million farming households would be given trees aligned to their agro-ecological region to be able to begin an agro-industry through aggregation and value chains development.
“We envisage that of the 35 000 villages that we have in the country, each one of them will have borehole by 2025 and linked to it, some activity.
“We also anticipate that we will have a poultry scheme looking at free range (chickens) or so called road runners,” Dr Masuka said.
The Minister said the Government will pursue an accelerated irrigation development plan to “climate-proof our agriculture”.
“Zimbabwe is predicted to become drier in the decades ahead, so we will climate-proof our agriculture, the 1,8 million rural households through conservation agriculture,” he said.
Further, Dr Masuka said the Government will further protect the agriculture sector from the vagaries of bad weather by accelerating development of dams, which should be regarded as means to an end.
“We envisage that in the next three years we will have 350 000 hectares under irrigation,” he said.
Enablers to these grand transformation plans, the minister said, will entail agriculture mechanisation, institutional reforms and change of management at key State-owned agriculture oriented entities.
“It is unprecedent in the history of this country, we are in the next 12 months bringing in 3 000 tractors; the whole country currently has 6 000 working tractors only.
“So this is demonstrative of the Government’s commitment and support to ensure that agriculture anchors our journey towards vision 2030,” the Minister said.
The planned interventions have already seen 18 percent increase in planted area under maize to 1 821 million hectares, sorghum 5,3 percent to 322 000 ha, soyabean 136 percent to 79 000ha, cotton 25 percent to 382 000ha and tobacco 7,1 percent to 107 000ha.
Rebuilding, reforming, restructuring and transformation of key agriculture focused entities will entail institutions like Agribank, ZINWA, Agriculture Marketing Authority, ARDA, TIMB, Tobaccco Research Board and Grain Marketing Board.