Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga’s whirlwind tour of agricultural projects around the country last week enabled Government to take stock of ongoing efforts to revitalise the sector, including drumming up support to increase the area under production, which is critical to achieve food self-sufficiency and save foreign currency through cutting imports.
There are efforts to wean the sector from rain-fed agriculture to sustainable irrigation practices.
VP Chiwenga was accompanied by Finance and Economic Development Ministers Professor Mthuli Ncube, Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza and officials from the Ministry of Energy and Power Development.
The team toured agricultural projects in Chiredzi, Masvingo, Binga and Kanyemba.
Secretary for Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Dr John Basera, who was part of the delegation, told The Sunday Mail that agriculture would help realise President Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030.
“It was basically a tour to inspect progress on the Lowveld maize green belt as well as to monitor progress on the winter maize,” said Dr Basera. “We toured Chipangayi in Middle Sabi, where there is a maize field on 150 hectares. Farmers and white investors in the area pledged 2 500 hectares of white maize.
“At Hippo Valley Estates in Chiredzi, under the Project Kilimanjaro, we toured 73 hectares of winter maize crop.
“However, we are targeting 2 000 hectares of the crop. Land preparation and planting is underway.
“In Chilonge, Masvingo, the irrigation was idle for 13 years and three years ago we visited the place and decided to revive the scheme. We are currently working with Zinwa and the community, which has planted 160 hectares of winter maize.
“In Binga, we had visited the area a month prior to this visit and we established an irrigation scheme for winter maize.
“Currently, Arda is working in the area with the community and planting is underway on 400 hectares of white sorghum.
“In Kanyemba there was no winter crop. However, there are plans for a summer crop on over 246 hectares and inputs are set to be delivered soon. Land preparation is currently underway. We had gone there to assess the situation as we are planning to clear 10 000 hectares of land in the next two weeks.”
Government, Dr Basera added, was working on clearing over 100 000 hectares of land for agriculture in Kanyemba, Bulawayo Kraal and Chiredzi in the next three years.
During his tour, VP Chiwenga warned farmers that they risked losing their land if they did not use it productively.
“The Government will not go back on the initiative to downsize unproductive farms as this will promote production,” said VP Chiwenga during one of the tours.
Recently, President Mnangagwa said the “use-it-or-lose-it” principle — initially tailored for the mining sector — would be applied in the agriculture sector, where vast tracts of land are idle.