There will be no disruptions to the movement of agricultural produce from farms to markets as all registered agricultural markets remain operational during the prescribed hours of a level lockdown while vehicles carrying agricultural produce are allowed passage at all roadblocks and Covid-19 check points.
Farming was not affected by either the initial level five lockdown in April last year nor the subsequent level four lockdown when mining and manufacturing were also allowed to open.
Commerce came back on stream when the lockdown was moved to level two, and will, outside the sales of food and medicines, once again be limited as Zimbabwe returns to level 4.
Importation of grain and agricultural raw materials, transportation, processing and distribution of agricultural products and manufacturing, supply and importation and installation of mechanisation and irrigation equipment are, as before, not disputed.
The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement said yesterday that exemption letters will be issued to those providing essential services in the agriculture sector and this had been decentralised to local Agritex offices, ZRP offices and the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) offices.
This follows the announcement of a 30-day move from a level two to a level four lockdown by Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Constantino Chiwenga.
Under level four productive sectors in mining, manufacturing and agriculture would continue to operate as before.
Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Anxious Masuka yesterday said the Ministry had a mandate to guarantee household and national food security; clean water and sanitation services, plant and animal health services and delivery of agricultural commodities to the markets.
In a statement, Minister Masuka said transportation of all agricultural produce would be allowed from all production areas to markets, within and across districts, provided the transporters had valid exemption letters.
“All vehicles carrying agricultural produce (field crops, horticultural crops), and livestock and livestock products shall be allowed passage at all the country’s roadblocks and Covid-19 checkpoints.
“The sector is encouraged to observe and maintain the intent and spirit of the lockdown by adhering to all preventive measures to ensure that members of staff are not exposed to or spread Covid-19. Farmers must take precautionary measures to ensure that their workers are either resident on-farm or are from the surrounding communities, and adhere to preventative measures,” he said.
Crop, horticulture and livestock production on individual plots and farms and institutional farms, including all small-holder production; manufacturing and supply of agriculture inputs; seed, fertilizers, agro-chemicals, day old chicks, stockfeeds, tillage services and spares of agriculture machinery and equipment remain operational.
He said manufacturing of water treatment chemicals, provision of clean water and sanitation to households by ZINWA, local authorities, District Development Fund(DDF)and approved private sector players and provision of water, sanitation and health (WASH) services by UN agencies and co-operating partners will not be disrupted. Oher services that will continue include importation of grain and agricultural raw materials, transportation, processing and distribution of agricultural products, manufacturing, supply and importation and installation of mechanisation and irrigation equipment and issuance of import and export permits.
Operations such as harvesting, transportation processing and marketing of agricultural commodities; local and abroad will also continue while those offering plant and animal pest and diseases preventive and control measures will also not be disrupted.
“The farming community, agribusinesses, traders, and transporters are informed to work closely with officials representing the Ministry (Strategic Policy Planning and Business Development Directorate), Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) Officials, Agritex and the Zimbabwe Republic Police to obtain the requisite authorisation documents.
“All exemption letters are free of charge and anyone caught charging for these letters should be reported to the nearest police station,” he said. Issuance of exemption letters has been decentralised and devolved to local Agritex offices and ZRP offices in addition to AMA and Ministry offices.