Govt mulls US$13,5b food industry 

Source: Govt mulls US$13,5b food industry –Newsday Zimbabwe

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Development minister Anxious Masuka said national food security could only be achieved by empowering rural people who constitute 62% of the country

GOVERNMENT has set its target on a US$13,5 billion food production industry, up from the previously announced US$8 billion in which production land will increase from 75 000 hectares to 350 000 hectares.

To achieve this, government says it will eliminate household food deficits first before going national by accelerated irrigation initiatives and the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme.

Speaking to provincial ministers and permanent secretaries of different ministries and other stakeholders gathered at Zhovhe Dam in Beitbridge yesterday, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Development minister Anxious Masuka said national food security could only be achieved by empowering rural people who constitute 62% of the country.

He said government aimed to permanently remove people from food handout queues.

“We can achieve this by elimination of household food deficits. These deficits are a result of wrong cropping and that is the monumental task at hand. We should be able to convince people that cropping is determined by agro-ecological conditions rather than want,” Masuka said.

He urged people not to continue preffering maize, which is performing badly under existing weather patterns.

Masuka also said government was building an additional 13 dams under its accelerated irrigation programme.

“To achieve this, all provincial ministers should spend 99,9% of their time doing agricultural business. With this, the country will be able to transform to the upper-middle-class economy. Rural success in agriculture will create rural industrialisation,” he said.

Meanwhile, government yesterday set up an inter-ministerial committee to deal with land barons who are illegally parcelling out land across the country.

Masuka, who is chairing the committee, said they will take the opportunity to discuss the plight of illegal settlers in some parts of the country whose homes have been demolished.

“We expect to receive a report on developments from the Commissioner-General of Police (Godwin Matanga) about the ongoing exercise on illegally settled people. There had been an increasing tendency by village heads to sell land. This was common in areas near urban areas and growth points or business centres,” he said.

Government has come down hard on land barons and by February 12, police had arrested 3 775 suspected land barons, with 985 convictions being made by the courts, while 3 360 cases await trial.

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