National News

Zim attains US$8.1bn agric target

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Zimbabwe has achieved the target set to transform the agriculture sector into a US$8.1bn economy by 2025 buoyed by horticultural crops and increased export earnings, Business Times can report

The plan was launched by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2020. The strategy was to grow the sector through the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy (AFSTS).

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Development permanent secretary,  John Basera, said the government will be forced to review the target to US$10bn if the sector continues to do well.

“We gave ourselves a target of achieving a US$8.1bn agriculture economy by 2025.

We religiously rolled out the plan and managed to achieve the target in one and a half farming seasons. What we wanted to achieve in five years we managed to achieve in one and half seasons,” Basera said.

Lands minister Anxious Masuka said in line with ministerial performance contracts signed in February this year, the government has directed all parastatals to sign performance contracts aligned to the US$10bn target.

“Overall, AFSTS targets to increase incomes for farmers by 100%, create 1m jobs, increase import substitution to 80%, including a 40% increase in both value addition and exports,” Masuka recently said.

The achievement comes at a time when the government is targeting to support 3.5m farmers under Pfumvudza/Intwasa scheme during the 2022/2023 summer cropping season in a bid to help the majority of farmers who don’t have collateral to get loans from banks.

In June this year, the government released ZWL$20bn   for the programme but the figure is expected to go up given the inflationary environment.

“Last year, we had 2.3m farmers under the Pfumvudza programme. This year we have additional 1.2m farmers that are set to benefit from the conservative programme.

“Pfumvudza preparations have gone smoothly so far with many farmers having already dug holes and we want to ride on that as we plan to distribute inputs early,” Basera said.

Under the 3.5m people, the government will also cover an extra 520 000 families for cotton production.

The Presidential Input Programme (Pfumvudza/Intwasa) will have the majority of farmers from communal areas and A1 farmers with peri-urban farmers also included in the mix.

Basera said the government has already indicated its desire to ensure household and national food security at all costs, especially at a time when global food supply chains have been disrupted over the past two years by Covid-19 and lately the war in Ukraine.

This year’s Pfumvudza/Intwasa scheme will have specific input packages for each ecological farming region.

In the 2020-2021 cropping season, the programme contributed 43% of total maize production, while in the 2021-22 season, which was affected by a mid-season dry spell, the programme contributed 35% of total maize output.

The programme will this season support five plots (measuring 39 metres x 16 metres, which is equal to 0,0624 ha) per household.

There will be input packages for maize, sorghum, pearl millet, soyabeans, sunflower, groundnuts, vegetables and African peas.

The packages will include water retention enhancers, herbicides for three plots and fall armyworm control.

Basera said farmers in Region 1 and 2 will get three mandatory maize plots, two optional plots comprising sunflower, sorghum, pearl millet, groundnuts, African peas and sugar beans.

Farmers in Region 3 will get two mandatory maize plots and a sorghum or sunflower plot, three optional plots comprising sunflower, sorghum, pearl millet, groundnuts, African peas and sugar beans.

In regions Region 4 and 5, farmers will get one mandatory sorghum plot, one millet plot and one sunflower plot.

There will also be two optional plots comprising maize, African peas, groundnuts, sorghum and millet.”

The success of the conservation agriculture programme, Basera said, would be anchored on sticking to set timelines, particularly early digging of planting.

He said the use of mulching to conserve moisture and superb and judicious weed control was important.

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