The Herald (Harare)

23 August 2014

Zimbabwe: Agriculture Scores for Zim-Asset

Address by His Excellency the President, Cde R. G. Mugabe, at the official opening of the 104th Harare Agricultural Show at the Exhibition Park, yesterday.

I feel greatly honoured to officiate at this the 104th show of the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society. Following the resounding victory of my party in the 2013 July 31st harmonised elections, my Government embarked on the national socio-economic development strategy, dubbed "Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset)."

Zim-Asset is a robust and comprehensive strategy anchored on four mutually reinforcing clusters, namely: Food Security and Nutrition, Social Services and Poverty Reduction, Infrastructure and Utilities, and Value Addition and Beneficiation.

Of the four, Food and Nutrition is the one most closely linked and associated with agriculture.

In keeping with Zim-Asset objectives that are embodied in the Food and Nutrition cluster, this year's show has adopted its theme as, "Sustaining and Transforming Agricultural Growth".

Through Zim-Asset, we have targeted transforming the agricultural sector into a more inclusive, resilient, vibrant and formidable national economic pillar. In order to achieve our objectives, we ought to pay attention to, and prioritise, the value addition and beneficiation of our various products.

We begin by focusing mainly on our agricultural products since agriculture is the mainstay of Zimbabwe's economy.

While we have already taken some steps to value-add tobacco, tea and cotton sub-sectors, which is still inadequate, much more still needs to be done for us to fully benefit from our natural resources.

Zimbabwe cannot continue to remain a country of predominantly raw material and unbeneficiated primary product exporter.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Harare Agricultural Show provides exhibitors, Government, regional and international organisations, and the general public, with a unique opportunity to meet, interact and transact various aspects of business.

Show time is an occasion to share experiences and insights into future economic trends. Similarly my tour today to the various stands provided me with that rare opportunity of the much needed interaction with captains of industry.

I am informed, once again, that the uptake of exhibitions space is 100 percent.

In addition to commendable representation by local companies, spanning the spectrum of agriculture, companies from Africa and beyond are also well represented.

From Africa, Zambia, Ghana, Botswana, Kenya and South Africa, they are represented here. We are happy that some of these companies and countries have become annual participants at this show.

We highly appreciate their definite expression of confidence in our agricultural sector, in particular, and our economy in general.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I can also report that I have been to stands with exhibits of high quality products and services. This is natural and quite logical after a good rain season.

We are glad that our maize and grain production is set to surpass 1,4 million tonnes, enough to ensure national food self-sufficiency. For the first time after many years of drought, Zimbabwe has now attained this level of production.

Tobacco production also continued on an upward trend, now being valued at over US$676 million, from 167 million kilogrammes realised during the 2012/2013 season.

Generally, cotton, sugar and horticultural crops did slightly better than in the last season. Overall crop production is much more improved this season. We hope this trend will continue.

I must this season commend all the players in the agricultural sector, that is both the input suppliers and the growers. All stakeholders are, however, urged to be fully prepared ahead of the 2014/2015 agricultural season.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Climate change is real, its impact has been clearly manifested in weather extremes such as the recently experienced floods and prolonged dry spells.

To mitigate the negative effects of climate change, Government is making various efforts such as rehabilitating irrigation schemes, dam construction and undertake the expansion of the area under irrigation.

In addition, there will be the introduction of improved drought-tolerant crops varieties.

Our people also need to be educated in employing correct farming methods that result in substantive agricultural production.

However, it remains necessary to cultivate additional awareness among our people in order to avoid unnecessary loss of life, property, crops and other assets that would result from floods and other climate-change-induced weather extremes.

I am delighted by the increased participation of various Government ministries and departments in the this year's show. Such participation goes a long way in consolidating the understanding of the facilitatory role of Government in the various spheres of our national, social and economic development.

I am sure you do agree that the Harare Agricultural Show is progressively growing from strength to strength, as evidenced by the quality of the exhibits, the increased number of exhibitors and the public attendance.

Finally, I wish to congratulate the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society for successfully hosting this 104th show and thank the public for their continued support.

With these remarks, I now wish to declare the 104 Harare Agricultural Show officially open.

I thank you

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