via Stop decline of agriculture sector – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 31, 2015
The 2015 Harare Agricultural Show has come and gone. But it has exposed the declining state of the agricultural sector which previously was the country’s key economic driver.
It is regrettable that today there is no agriculture to talk about; it is in a sorry state with no solution in sight from the country’s seemingly clueless Zanu PF leadership.
As the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society president Robbie Mupawose correctly stated in his speech at the official opening ceremony on Friday a lot needs to be done to catapult the agricultural sector to its rightful position – that of being the bread basket of the continent.
Mozambican President Felipe Nyusi even invited local farmers to take up land in his country to boost his country’s economy.
Yet, Zimbabwe has had continuous land disruptions since 15 years ago. What a contrast. This shows lack of seriousness on the part of President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.
We believe it is time for Zimbabwe to consolidate its pole position as the regional food security hub. But this can only happen if Mugabe and his Zanu PF leadership take a position to stop disruptions on the farms as is the case with commercial farms owned by white Zimbabweans.
Reports that this year’s exhibition registered an 8% drop in the number of exhibitors and crowd attendance is a sign that government has failed to protect its farmers and agro-business-related institutions for them to whither the storm of the harsh economic challenges.
The Agricultural Show should be the epicentre of the production of all raw materials if it is well supported by government. There is no reason why industry should continue on a downward spiral when Zimbabwe has its foremost resources – the land.
We are aware that the main reason why agriculture has failed to stimulate the economy is the way Zanu PF has strategically identified the sector as a conduit for looting government funds on the pretext of funding agriculture yet the money would be on onward transmission elsewhere.
One wonders why 15 years after the launch of the land reform programme stability has eluded the agricultural sector. If anything, the decline of agriculture has also exposed the land reform exercise as a huge failure as the majority of resettled farmers have dismally failed to be productive.
Today, Nigeria and Zambia have taken advantage of the chaotic nature of the country’s land reform programme and accommodated dozens of local farmers driven away by Zanu PF zealots so that they could rescue and regenerate their economies. Is it not an indictment on Mugabe’s part that Zimbabwe will this year import maize from Zambia to augment national maize reserves – that was produced by mostly white former commercial farmers previously in Zimbabwe?
Indeed, Zambia has become a shining beckon by rallying the farmers to produce surplus maize – thanks to Mugabe for chasing them away.
While no one is against distributing land to indigenous Zimbabweans, it is the manner in which the process was carried out that is questionable and worrying to this day.
The fact that the agri-business sector is slowly sinking such that companies are failing to take up space at the exhibition park, shows those tasked with feeding the nation are incompetent and do not know what is expected of them.
It is our contention that if the agricultural sector was doing well, all related businesses would thrive, but because we cannot even produce enough to feed our people, we have nothing to contribute to economic growth.
We cannot continue to cry over climatic challenges facing Zimbabwe as they are not unique to us as a country, but shared by the region. Both Mugabe and Zanu PF have to rethink the impact of the farm allocation policies.
Farms should not be kept for speculative purposes. Let us create an enabling environment and look at agriculture as a business.