Source: Command agric nets 300 000ha | The Herald September 6, 2016
THOUSANDS of farmers have registered 300 000 hectares of land under Government’s command agriculture programme, with the evaluation of farms expected to start this week.
Government set a target of 400 000 hectares for the programme.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development (Cropping) Cde Davis Marapira, in an interview, said evaluation of the farms would be conducted in the provinces beginning this week.
He said provincial officials from the Department of Irrigation and Mechanisation and Agritex would be moving around provinces assessing the farms as preparations for the 2016-17 summer cropping season intensify.
“Assessment of the farms is beginning this week from the 300 000 hectares that have been registered so far across the provinces,” Cde Marapira said.
“As the parent ministry, we will monitor the process, but registration is still ongoing and our target is 400 000 hectares and not on the number of farmers who register. The farmers who would have qualified will be given inputs while others will have their irrigation schemes resuscitated,’’ Cde Marapira said.
He said the programme was more tenable to farmers in regions one, two and three, while those in region four and five could only be incorporated if they have irrigation.
Cde Marapira said Government’s main focus areas would be Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, and Mashonaland Central with parts of Midlands and Manicaland being accommodated into the programme.
“The farms should be near water bodies and each having the capacity to put a minimum of 200 hectares under maize. Our target will see farmers working under strict supervision and required to commit five tonnes per hectare to Government as repayment for the inputs and agricultural equipment.
Recently Zesa pledged to ensure consistent electricity supply to farming areas this season while fertiliser and maize seed producers assured the nation of adequate inputs. The firms said they have 40 000 tonnes of maize seed in stock and 60 000 tonnes (top dressing) and 40 000 tonnes (compound) in fertiliser stock.
The $500 million Command Agriculture Programme, which was launched by Vice President Mnangagwa in July, aims to produce two million tonnes of maize on 400 000 hectares of land.
Government’s decision to embark on the programme was necessitated by the rise in national food insecurity from about 12 percent in 2011 to 42 percent this year.
Zimbabwe, like several other Sadc countries, had to rely on imports to supplement its meagre grain harvest this season.
The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Report said four million people needed food aid this year because of an El-Nino-induced drought.
Other Government programmes such as the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme would complement command agriculture.