Government is calling on private players to invest in agriculture as the country continues to work tirelessly to reclaim its status as Africa's breadbasket, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Settlement, Vangelis Haritatos has said.
Addressing more than 65 delegates attending the five-day workshop organised by West African Insurance Companies Association (WAICA) Reinsurance Company, the deputy minister said there were abundant opportunities in the agricultural sector which need to be taped.
The business delegates are drawn from Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Mauritius, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Rwanda and Cote d'ivoire among other countries.
The seminar is running under the theme: "Agricultural Risk Management"
"Zimbabwe was once labelled the breadbasket for Africa, a status Government is working tirelessly to reclaim as we go forward.
"It is an undeniable fact that agriculture forms the backbone of most African economies. Zimbabwe fits perfectly in the bracket of such economies.
"We understand that the task is a huge one given the above mentioned myriad of challenges, and Government cannot go alone. Private sector involvement is critical in our success story. That is why we are happy that we have you here, a congregation of think tanks who are committed to the cause of championing tailor-made solutions through their own field of expertise; agriculture insurance," he said.
He said an agricultural system is only as strong as linkages in its value chain.
"This underscores the need for the concerted cooperation of key stakeholders in various sectors of the economy. Agriculture insurance plays a very critical role in bringing together these players.
"In fact, the real pay-off of agriculture insurance is to unblock access to high value markets, modern technologies and inputs, agricultural information, credit and other financial services.
"Therefore, Government is very pleased with initiatives such as this forum spearheaded by WAICA Reinsurance Company, initiatives which complement efforts from various sectors of the economy to produce a whole that is bigger than the sum of its parts.
"The Government of Zimbabwe has always been keen on promoting a sustainable agricultural system through the implementation of well-crafted interventions," he said.
"In that regard, the Government, through the ministry, partners with and participates actively in regional and domestic programmes aimed at strengthening agriculture. I am proud to say that we are on board with the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which is the continental framework set by the African Union with the aim to help African countries eliminate hunger and reduce poverty by raising economic growth through agriculture-led development as well as promoting national development in the agricultural sector," he said.
He cited severe drought as the major drawback to the agriculture sector.
West African Insurance Companies Association (WAICA) Reinsurance Group chief operating officer Dr Abiba Zakariah said Zimbabwe has vast business opportunities which need to be taped.
Dr Zakariah said investors should take advantage of the existing friendly policies that are available in Zimbabwe.
"We chose Zimbabwe because we have just opened a fully flagged office.
"We know agriculture is the backbone of the country's economy. We are an African reinsurance company and our purpose is to add value to the countries we invest in, and not just coming in as any other investor. We want to be contributing to the growth of the economy and that is why we are opening branches in Africa," she added.
Waica Reinsurance Zimbabwe managing director Mr Welberforce Machimbidzofa said the purpose of the training programme is to help the underwriter across Africa to understand what agricultural insurance is all about and what kind of cover or protection that the farmer needs to cover the risk of farming.
"The potential for insurance to grow in Zimbabwe is great, but there is still a lot to be done," said Mr Machimbidzofa.