via Mega boost for agric on cards | The Herald April 20, 2015
GOVERNMENT will soon launch the biggest farm mechanisation programme to empower smallholder farmers and help boost productivity, President Mugabe has said.
He also underscored the need for the country to develop a national irrigation policy to counter climate- change induced droughts.
In his keynote address during celebrations to mark the country’s 35th independence anniversary at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on Saturday, President Mugabe said the agricultural equipment was being sourced from Brazil.
“Fellow Zimbabweans, we have by now learnt, albeit in a painful way, the true meaning of climate change. While the early rains had given us hope of a good harvest, as has persistently happened in previous years, I must say many parts of the country, unfortunately, succumbed to a prolonged dry spell, thus putting a large dent on our efforts to achieve national food security,” said President Mugabe.
“We require little persuasion, if any, to accept that we need to develop a national irrigation policy to counter the persistent droughts that are so frequent, and are clearly caused by climate change.”
He said no Zimbabwean will starve as efforts were being made to mitigate the effects of drought.
“I, nonetheless, want to assure all our citizens that Government is putting in place contingency measures to ensure that no one will starve,” he said.
President Mugabe expressed optimism that the coming rainy season was going to be better.
“Already, under the More Food for Africa Programme, Government has acquired a vast array of agricultural equipment and tractors from Brazil for use by smallholder farmers on a cost recovery basis,” said President Mugabe.
“This programme, which is promising to be the largest mechanisation programme by Government so far, shall be launched soon. This thrust should be complemented by measures to reduce the cost of local inputs, especially fertiliser, in order to render local agricultural production more competitive.”
He said 400 rural institutions were electrified in 2014 as part of Government policy to stimulate rural development in order to improve the quality of life for those in the rural areas.
This, he said, brought to 7 984 the total number of institutions electrified by January 31, 2015.
“We urge all our urban centres to emulate the City of Harare which has taken the lead in the installation of solar power along some of its inner city roads,” he said.
President Mugabe commended security forces for remaining resolute in defending the country’s sovereignty and peace.
“On the international scene, they have continued to make us proud. More recently, our military personnel acquitted themselves very well while on their deployment to the Equatorial Guinea under ‘Operation Pride’ during the 2015 African soccer games, and they did equally well while on the Sadc mission in the Kingdom of Lesotho,” he said.