18 March 2017

Zimbabwe: Zim 'Bumper Harvest' - Minister Credits Land Reforms

Zimbabwean Agriculture Minister Joseph Made is confident the country will have a bumper harvest amid revelations government has stopped the importation of grain.

Made predicts Zimbabwe will attain more than 2 million metric tons of grain, including small grains such as sorghum and millet.

"We predict that we will have food sustenance. The fact is that the crops as well as the quality of livestock pasture are looking good," said Made in an exclusive interview with News24.

Annually Zimbabwe needs at least 1.8 million metric tons for its consumption.

But in recent years, the country has failed to produce a third of the national average which critics attributed to President Robert Mugabe's controversial agrarian reforms which drove out large scale white commercial farmers. This was coupled with successive droughts.

Out of the estimated 4 000 white farmers driven out of their properties, Mugabe claimed to have resettled nearly 500 000 new black farmers on A1 and A2 pieces of land after subdividing some of the large estates.

Successful agricultural season

"It's been a good season right across the country. I am sure you have seen it for yourself," said Made, amid revelations the government has stopped the importation of grain in anticipation of the envisaged bumper harvest.

He estimated the country would realise between 1.8 million and 2 million metric tons of grain, inclusive of maize and other small grains such sorghum and millet - although stating this was according to the first national crop assessment.

The second assessment would not alter much as the bulk of the crop had matured and ready to be harvested, Made said.

While crediting the land reforms for the expected record harvest, Made said the timely allocation of financial and other material resources also contributed to a successful agricultural season. He paid tribute to the central bank for paying farmers their outstanding monies for the previous season on time, and the timeous availing of inputs under the presidential farming inputs scheme.

A total of $84 million was paid to maize producers in addition to a total of $43 million which went to wheat producers way before the start of the cropping season.

'Command' agriculture

"Also the country did not experience the mid-February drought which it suffered in previous seasons. All the crops and livestock are three or five times better than five years or so ago.

"In fact the cereals are even more than 100% better than five years ago. The country is in a much better situation, there should be food sufficiency at all household level as well as at the strategic grain reserves at the Grain Marketing Board," Made said.

He also credited the bumper harvest to what he said was the use of long season variety seeds - the 7 series - which he claimed produced big crops as well as "application of double DD fertilizer" and the meticulously application of sophisticated pesticides to deal with pests.

But critics of the government said were it not for the commandeering of farmers' parcelled out land by the regime under its so-called Command Agriculture, Made could be staring another disaster.

Mugabe put his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa sternly in charge of the programme in which farmers' parcelled out farms were doled out farming implements and inputs such as seed and fertiliser to plant under the aptly named "Command Agriculture" programme.

News24

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