5 September 2013

Zimbabwe: Hope for Agricultural Sector


THERE is renewed optimism for economic turnaround going into the summer cropping season set to start in a few weeks time. This comes on the back of Zanu-PF's resounding victory in the harmonised elections, a victory that ensures that the era of the dysfunctional coalition government is gone, and the era of an exclusive Zanu-PF government that prioritises agriculture and support for farmers beckons.

Over the past four years, during the tenure of the inclusive Government, the agriculture sector hung in the balance as former finance minister Tendai Biti turned a deaf ear to calls to support farmers in line with his party's anti-land reform stance.

With weather experts forecasting normal rains and President Mugabe pledging to up support for farmers things can only get better.

As he officially opened the 103rd edition of the Harare Agricultural Show last week, President Mugabe said Government would secure funding and continue pursuing appropriate mechanisation programmes that will address the needs of the farming community.

There is no doubt that mechanisation will result in increased productivity and efficiency on the farms which would in turn spur industrial growth.

There is also a plus factor in the good tidings with reports that we are going to receive normal to above normal rains for the 2013/2014 farming season.

The pending appointment of the new Cabinet will also bring an impetus to the chosen path and it will only be left to the incumbents to ensure that the desired objectives are met.

We have to commit ourselves to achieve the bold objectives of regaining our position as the bread basket of the region. Admittedly, we have had our challenges, but now is our opportunity to prove to the world that we can do it on our own, using our own resources.

There is immense potential to turn our economic fortunes once we have a good season and people get to work on the farms and our erstwhile critics will have nothing but egg on their faces, because we can do it.

The recent signing of a US$100 million agricultural credit facility between Zimbabwe and Brazil could not have come at a better time and will definitely go a long way to ensure that the new thrust in agriculture is enhanced.

Brazil is a renowned manufacturer of recognised brands in agricultural machinery and equipment and its commitment to stand by Zimbabwe at this stage is highly commendable.

This will further strengthen and widen the bilateral economic relations between the two countries at a time when Zimbabwe is pursuing the Look East policy in the wake of the anti-Zimbabwe crusade at the instigation of Western countries and their allies.

For more than a decade, we have felt the wrath of illegal sanctions which have stifled growth in many sectors, agriculture included.

It is now our chance to shame our detractors as we get down to serious business and make use of the land that we now own and make the resources sweat for us.

Unlike in the past when those entrusted with the country's purse used to take pride in importing such basic commodities as wheat, we can easily turn this around and those resources can now be used for other critical sectors. We owe it to ourselves to ensure that what we fought for is effectively used for all and sundry and we can stand tall and claim that we have done it. It is possible.

It is now time to rally all the troops, farmers' organisations and Agritex included, and make sure that the promises made in the Zanu-PF election manifesto are turned into reality and all sectors should be driven by the desire to achieve, thus Team Zimbabwe can prosper.

Critics of the country's successful land reform programme should be silenced once and for all. Unlike other economies in the world, ours is backed by agriculture and once we line up our ducks, it will not be long before we start reaping the fruits of our sweat.

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