19 June 2017

Zimbabwe: Command Agric Charms SADC

Photo: New Zimbabwe
First Lady Grace Mugabe and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa (file photo).

Zimbabwe's successful Command Agriculture Programme is panacea to hunger and poverty in Africa if replicated by countries facing external threats such as economic sanctions, visiting Namibian provincial governor Ambassador Dr Samuel Kaveto Mbambo has said. Dr Mbambo, the governor for Kavango East, said Zimbabwe had resilient systems and structures that ensured it stood tall in the face of adversities like illegal sanctions imposed by the West.

Through establishing structures like Command Agriculture, he said, Zimbabwe had not buckled under pressure, but continued to come up with mechanisms to stay afloat.

"We have come here to learn about how you confront the giants of hunger and poverty, which are threatening the region and Africa as a whole," said Dr Mbambo.

"Our President (Dr Hage Geingob) declared all war against hunger and poverty and we came to learn some tricks, strategies and tactics.

"We are going back home knowing that what we want to do under Operation Hwerengwenje, which is to improve food production, is something that you (Zimbabwe) have already started.

"I was very impressed with the Command Agriculture Programme when I saw those trucks at Lions Den. In my view, Command Agriculture is the way to go if we want to involve our people in the business of development.

"Command Agriculture is the right way to go to engage our people in development initiatives, especially eradicating hunger in this part of the global village (Africa)."

The Command Agriculture template, Dr Mbambo said, had put Zimbabwe on a trajectory to kick out hunger and poverty and stimulate economic growth.

"In coming here we have said, our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe, despite all the pressures from those who think they can rule everybody, they learnt to swim in difficult times.

"We are here with humility to learn from you because Namibia is not immune to this type of unfair treatment from the so-called bosses of this world. We came and said we want to learn to swim while the floods are still far away."

Dr Mbambo said his country wanted to learn to produce food in the face of difficulties such as economic sanctions and other externally-driven challenges.

He said those who thought Zimbabwe would go back to its erstwhile colonisers and beg for assistance had been forced to eat "humble pie."

Dr Mbambo said Africa's undoing at times had been the prescriptions from other regions, which he described as the 'Saul armament' which was not suited for David in the Bible.

He said Command Agriculture was an intervention that needed to be closely looked at and adopted by many countries in the region and Africa as a whole.

Operation Hwerengwenje seeks to build food self-sufficiency for Kavango East region, Namibia as a whole and exports to other African countries.

Gleaned from the wisdom of the termite, the programme seeks to build food reserves that will be able to sustain the country even in the face of drought.

"I was really impressed by Command Agriculture and it's something that we will look at, refine it and get more information on it," said Dr Mbambo. "I think that is the way to go."

The programme, he said, involved the people in producing food for their sustenance and surplus for sale. The country is expecting a bumper harvest as farmers have started delivering their crops to the GMB depots dotted across the country.

Under Command Agriculture, Government provided inputs to farmers which they were supposed to repay after harvesting.

Over two million tonnes were targeted to be produced this season amid indications food crops may exceed four million tonnes.

Mashonaland West Minister of State Cde Faber Chidarikire said the country was beginning to reap the benefits of land reform.

Dr Mbambo was leading a 35-member delegation on a five day fact finding mission of Mashonaland West province at the invitation of Cde Chidarikire.

The delegation seeks to establish areas of cooperation in agriculture and twinning arrangements between Kavango East and Mashonaland West.

Cde Chidarikire is expected to pay a reciprocal visit to Kavango East region soon.

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