Zimbabwe: Govt Should Up Support for New Farmers - Shiri

President Emmerson Mnangagwa capping graduate (file photo).
26 September 2018

Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Settlement Minister Perrance Shiri has called for more support for new farmers to address food insecurity issues and to boost productivity and exports.

He said agriculture was the mainstay of the economy and hence it was critical to render capacity building and material support programmes to both small-scale and commercial farmers.

The minister made the remarks soon after touring the Zhovhe Farm owned by Top Pick Investments.

A lot of farming activities such as fisheries, wheat production, beans, maize, cattle, ruminants, milling are done at the farm.

"The Government should encourage farmers to engage each other so that they may understand what the value chain means and can go and apply various farming models in their respective areas," he said.

"Government is also there to create an enabling environment like the Command Agriculture element where it gives farmers inputs and they have to do the rest.

"In addition, it is there to provide security so that there is total stability on the farms so that people can do their day-to-day businesses undisturbed.

"It is also very critical for us as a Government to continue facilitating the importation of key equipment and inputs by our farmers to enhance their productivity and capacity issues.

"We must avail more resource so that farmers mechanise and adapt to other relevant smart-farming methods.

"However, the farmer has a lot to do because he is the business person and they should not entirely wait to be spoon fed by Government.

"They (farmers) need to embrace trainings and broaden their horizons so that they take advantage of what we seek to achieve through the agrarian reform".

Minister Shiri said though the Government had made great strides in capacitating most farmers, some were still facing a host of challenges.

These, he said include shortages in irrigation equipment, tractors and centre pivots among others.

He said so far a local company had started manufacturing centre pivots which will be accessible to the farmers.

"Other issues affecting productivity include limited knowledge on agriculture-related issues.

"At the moment we are seized with improving on mechanisation, resuscitating irrigation farming in areas where crops don't do well under the current rainfall patterns," he said.

Agriculture and Rural Development Authority chairperson Mr Basil Nyabadza said it was very critical for farmers to improve on the value chains and develop templates on retaining value and boosting economic growth in their respective areas.

"We must assist the farmers to target Government institutions as consumers or end users of their products.

"These include the prisons and hospital among others.

"Rural development should be anchored on food security, productivity and our farmers should focus in growing dedicated crops for export.

"Devolution of economy speaks of retention value at source," he said.

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