via CFU calls for joint effort to restore agriculture | The Zimbabwean 30.10.13 by Nelson Sibanda
Poor planning has already affected the next agricultural season as many farmers still do not have seed, fertiliser, chemicals and other inputs says the President of the Commercial Farmers Union, Charles Taffs.
Traditionally, farmers put their maize seed into the ground by mid-November, with December 15 as the cut-off date. So far, all indications are that such deadlines could be missed.
“Let us work together with government and other interested parties to solve problems affecting farming. The state needs to work with agriculture unions to turn the sector into a viable enterprise and revive an industry that was once the mainstay of our economy,” Taffs told The Zimbabwean. Essential components such as power supply, a good road infrastructure, availability of inputs and bold political decision-making were necessary for the success of the sector, he explained. Any disturbance in one of these components would have ripple effects on the entire industry.
Government was urged to adopt a holistic approach when dealing with problems affecting farming, and not to treat them as isolated issues.
Taffs said high costs of production and the crumbling agriculture infrastructure should be addressed by stakeholders as a matter of urgency. “One of the solutions for the sector would be to adopt a good positive business ethos. No one should put short-term political interests ahead of long term national economic gains,” he said.
Access to land should be based on economic fundamentals to ensure that land usage was maximised for national benefit, he added. With proper planning and a diversified farming sector, Zimbabwe could realise huge opportunities, particularly in the manufacturing sector. “This can provide the country with basic food requirements while attending to local and export demands. We urge government to provide a conducive environment in which bankers and investors will feel confident enough to aggressively fund the agricultural sector in its entirety,” said Taffs.
Zimbabwe, once the regional food security coordinator for southern Africa, has sunk to the bottom of the basket following the destruction of commercial and organised agriculture more than a decade ago through a chaotic and corrupt land reform programme.
Since then food shortages have plagued the nation, forcing an abnormally large part of its 12 million people to depend on Western food hand-outs. The World Food Programme estimates that 2,2 million Zimbabweans will be hard hit in the next few weeks and require external support to survive.