Zimbabwe expected to food self-sufficient this year

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The country is set to achieve food self-sufficiency this year after two successive seasons of drought .

Increased targeted investments in the agricultural sector will help the progress being made by the country to reclaim its status as the breadbasket of the region.

Programmes such as Pfumvudza/Intwasa Conservation Scheme, Zunde Ramambo, National Enhanced Crop Productivity Scheme (Command Agriculture), the Livestock Growth Plan and mechanisation have assisted in increasing productivity.

In his year-end State of Agriculture report, Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said the trend needs to be maintained and sustained.

“We are on course to achieving national food security in 2021, but we want permanent national food security,” said Dr Masuka.

“Agriculture is beginning to anchor the much-needed transformation to an upper middle-income economy.

“Collectively, Vision 2030 can be achieved under the wise leadership and guidance of the President, His Excellency Dr E.D. Mnangagwa.”

As at December 19, over 906 000 hectares had been put under food crops out of the targeted 1,5 million hectares.

Planting is, however, still underway as some areas received meaningful rains late.

Over 138 200 hectares had been put under maize through the Pfumvudza /Intwasa programme, while sorghum and soyabean has been planted on over 30 000 hectares.

Under the Command Agriculture, 253 825 hectares had been put under maize, with over 35 800 hectares placed under soyabean.

Farmers contracted under the same programme have also taken delivery of over 86 000 litres of fuel to oil their operations.

An additional 676 784 hectares have been put under maize, while 179 000 hectares have been put under sorghum, millet (70 604) and soyabean (12 825) through private financing.

Already, 18 804 tonnes of winter maize planted on 4 701 hectares has been harvested.

Further, 158 957 tonnes of wheat — the highest since 2007 — were delivered to the Grain Marketing Board last year.

Just over 94 000 tonnes of the cereal were harvested in 2019.

Through the farm mechanisation programme, 3 112 tractors were delivered to farmers countrywide under the John Deere and Belarus mechanisation facilities.

This increased the country’s tractor fleet to over 9 000 against a national requirement of 40 000.

The country will take delivery of more high-tech farming equipment this year.

Cash crops

Under the Cotton Presidential Input Programme, 350 000 hectares have been planted, which will give a projected output of 300 000 tonnes.

Land put under tobacco increased by nearly 50 percent after over 100 000 hectares were put under the golden leaf this season, up from 66 000 the previous season.

Around 84 000 hectares is under irrigation.

Dr Masuka said the national herd is expected to grow significantly by 2025 through the implementation of the Livestock Growth Plan.

The national herd currently stands at 5,4 million beef cattle, 38 000 dairy cattle, 523 000 sheep, 4,4 million goats and a 20 000 sow herd.

He said through the Accelerated Irrigation Rehabilitation and Development Plan, 420 000 hectares will be put under irrigation, up from the current 216 000.

The Government is actively pursuing the plan to unlock production while increasing productivity and profitability by encouraging farmers to take farming as a business.

The five-year Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy, said Dr Masuka, is set to deliver a 100 percent increase in household incomes, 80 percent increase in import substitution, a 60 percent increase in exports and a 40 percent jump in value addition and beneficiation by 2024.

The agriculture sector is forecast to also create an additional one million jobs by 2030.

Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) executive director Mr Paul Zakariya said good preparations for the summer cropping season have made a difference.

“The 2020-2021 season looks very promising,” said Mr Zakariya.

“The current season contrasts sharply with previous seasons because of good preparations and the consistent and well-distributed rains.

“We are hopeful that the end result will not disappoint. Apart from cropping, livestock has greatly improved.”

Women in Agriculture Union official Mrs Memory Chakwita said the current rainfall patterns are encouraging.

“The 2020-2021 season is a fairly good season; one which well-prepared farmers are taking advantage of.

“We have received good rains that have covered the entire nation.

“Most dams are already at full capacity, which means the water table is replenished and it will be possible to irrigate throughout the year.”