Zim poised for agric boom 

Source: Zim poised for agric boom | The Herald August 30, 2018

Zim poised for agric boomVP Chiwenga

Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
The country is destined for an agricultural boom, as Government is committed to comprehensively develop the sector towards achieving Vision 2030 of making Zimbabwe a middle income country, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has said.

He said this while addressing stakeholders attending the 6th National Agri-business Conference during the Harare Agricultural Show at the Exhibition Park yesterday.

The conference, organised by the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society and the National Economic Consultative Forum, was attended by several Government ministers, among them Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Perrance Shiri, heads of parastatals and captains of industry and commerce.

President Mnangagwa later graced the function.
VP Chiwenga said agriculture was one of the key sectors envisioned to significantly contribute towards the attainment of Vision 2030 of making Zimbabwe a middle income economy.

He called upon all stakeholders and individuals with contributions to forward their suggestions so that the country could realise its goal.

VP Chiwenga said the boom could be achieved through investment in irrigation infrastructure, mechanisation, contract farming, reforming the Agricultural Marketing Authority to increase foreign markets and value addition.

“Agriculture is the mainstay of the Zimbabwean economy, which contributes over 60 percent of the raw materials to the agro-based manufacturing sector and employs over 70 percent of the population,” he said.

“Under the visionary leadership of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Cde E.D. Mnangagwa, Government is ready to engage the private sector for the development of our economy.

“This is buttressed by Government’s efforts to attract both domestic and foreign direct investment hence our mantra ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’. The new dispensation is determined to see growth in agricultural investments and the agro-processing industry. This will then strengthen the entire agricultural value chain from suppliers to farmers and from the field to industry culminating in exports that will help stabilise the foreign currency situation and spur development,” he said.

VP Chiwenga said the country had experienced a steady increase in agricultural production during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 cropping seasons.

“This has improved the country’s food security,” he said. “It is my hope that this trend will be sustained in the 2018-19 summer cropping season and capacitate the country to once again export maize into the region and beyond thus regaining our breadbasket status in Southern Africa.

“The increase in agricultural production is attributable to the Government, the private sector and the resilience and hard work by our farmers under the auspices of the Command Agriculture programme and the Presidential Input Scheme.”
Government has extended Command Agriculture to include soyabeans, tobacco, livestock, fisheries, poultry and cotton.

“The response and uptake of the initiative in the diversified areas above is encouraging and where it is mediocre we will together find workable solutions,” said VP Chiwenga.

He applauded the tobacco sector for increasing production during the 2017-18 where the quantity delivered surpassed the record of 237 million kilogrammes of tobacco that was achieved in year 2000.

VP Chiwenga expressed concern over financial challenges, high bank interest rates, among other things which he said were affecting farmers.