IT is no rocket science that Government’s daily gospel on boosting agricultural productivity has found fertile ground, as demonstrated by developments in the maize and cotton sectors where hectarages for the 2020/21 season have taken an upward trajectory compared to previous seasons.
Also, the novel Pfumvudza programme that was initially targeting to cover 1, 8 million households has since breached the 2,2 million mark with even more unregistered farmers rolling out the programme independently in a development that essentially speaks volumes of the programme’s popularity.
There are even growing expectations that this year’s maize hectarage will eventually breach 1,5 million to eclipse the 1,4 million hectares planted so far.
The current hectarage has, however, surpassed the 612 406ha planted during the same period last season, which marks an increase of 137 percent that has been attributed to the good rainfall forecast and early distribution of inputs.
It is also exciting to note that the area put under maize so far is 97 percent of the targeted hectarage yet there are still some farmers who are wrapping up their planting, which had been delayed by the dry spell that rocked the better part of the first half of the season while the persistent rains that fell this month have also not hastened the planting process.
It is, however, the early distribution of inputs under the Presidential inputs programmes that has given more impetus to this year’s planting programmes and the resultant big hectarages.
To date, 100 percent seed has been distributed under Government support programmes with fertiliser distribution now almost 80 percent done too.
The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement is of course currently seized with expeditiously distributing top dressing fertiliser.
There has been tremendous progress registered in Pfumvudza programme, the National enhanced crop productivity Programme (Command or Smart Agriculture Programme), Presidential cotton programme; tobacco sector programme, livestock growth plan and the mechanisation support programme, thanks to the efforts by Government.
Government has spiced this year’s Pfumvudza project by introducing a competition for farmers under the programme and this means that all the 2,2 million families enrolled for the programme had automatically entered the competition for all the crops.
This development will promote competition, which is good for production.
The training of farmers, empowerment and capacitation of extension workers and robust monitoring and evaluation as dictated by the Agricultural Recovery Plan has also contributed effectively to the hectarages the country has of maize.
Capacitation of extension staff through increased mobility and appropriate training for effective technical backstopping and coaching of farmers in light of Good Agricultural Practices also helped, thanks to President Mnangagwa’s initiative of mobilising 5 000 motor cycles for extension staff, he said.
And, for the first time in many years, Government supported summer cropping programmes are on time for the season.
Government has made its intentions clear that the country has to achieve food self-sufficiency when it launched the Agricultural Recovery Plan last year and proceeded to set a target of 3,6 million tonnes of maize for this cropping season.
The cotton sector on the other hand has also seen the hectarage for the 2020/21 cropping season rising by 28 percent with farmers putting 185 557ha under the white gold to beat the 144696ha planted during the same period last year.
This came out of the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Ministry’s latest crop update, which put the projected national cotton hectarage at 450 000ha.
The Midlands Province is leading with 93 654ha while another traditional cotton stronghold, Mashonaland Central has 32 357ha.
Masvingo has 14 773ha, Mashonaland West 10 429ha, Mashonaland East 10 730ha and Manicaland 13 902ha, Matabeleland North 8 768ha and Matabeleland South 944ha.
The cotton crop across the country is in good condition, thanks to the rains currently being experienced.
The current resurgence of cotton sector is also attributed to Government’s intervention when price wars had almost put paid to all hopes of the country producing the white gold and reviving the textile industry too.
Government introduced the Presidential free cotton inputs as a way to cushion farmers from high costs of production and set up the
Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) as the buyer to save farmers from unviable prices set internationally and do not consider farmers’ production costs.
It is refreshing to note that Government still intends to do more to get the agriculture fully functioning with President Mnangagwa revealing that his administration would continue to put in place policies that facilitated the achievement of national and household food and accelerate the goal to end hunger in the country by 2030 through programmes such as the Presidential Pfumvudza/Intwasa Climate Proofed Programme over and above other strategies.
The Government will soon be rolling out a Presidential Horticulture Programme and other programmes under the Livestock Growth Plan to capacitate farmers especially those in the rural areas to achieve improved incomes and greater prosperity. To this effect, the Government has since launched the heifer pass-on programme and the piggery project that are meant to empower resource constrained communities to enable them to fend for their families as well as contribute to economic development.
Last year the President launched the US$58 million Belarus and the US$50 million John Deere agricultural equipment facilities meant to boost agricultural production through reliable mechanisation.
On the grassroots, Government has also empowered provincial ministers to anchor their regional GDPs on agriculture and capitalise on the promising 2020/21 farming season to achieve set targets as the country journeys towards attaining the Vision 2030.
The Government’s decision to roll out a dam construction project to add on to the existing water bodies with farmers situated near the water sources expected to get irrigation equipment under the programme meant to boost agricultural production also demonstrates its serious intentions to restore the country’s bread basket of Africa status.
Marovanyati, Tugwi-Mukosi, Gwayi-Shangani and Causeway dams to name just a few, are some of the dams expected to anchor the revolution while many other dams are being established countrywide.
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