Guaranteeing food security

Ishemunyoro Chingwere Agric Corner
Hello dear farmer. I hope I find you well. It’s been a while since you last heard from me, well space at the biggest newspaper comes at a premium so it’s not every week that you will be able to get your dosage of your favourite column.

My hope is you are very busy wherever you are with agricultural activities, notably with the summer crop harvest in which the country is expecting up to 2,7 million tonnes of maize. Dear farmer, you will agree with me that one of the most important things that this column has emphasised is the need for the sector to guarantee Zimbabwe’s food security. And talking of food security, my attention was last week drawn to the partnership between the department of Agricultural Technical and Extension Services (Agritex), seed manufacturer Agriseeds and the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA).

The ZNA, through the Zimbabwe National Defence University, is moving in to play a part in guaranteeing national food security and also securing their members’ future after retirement from service by moving into commercial farming. Agritex and Agriseeds are thus partnering the college to make sure the uniformed forces get the requisite skills and know-how in this business which has no place for chancers.

Officiating at a field day at the National Defence University, Minister of Defence, Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, told soldiers that food security and self-sustenance are key components of national security and urged them to play a key role in pursuit of food security. “The National Defence University is a strategic learning institution majoring in security studies that in themselves, are buttressed by food security,” said Minister Sekeramayi.

“The inclusion of agriculture in the University’s curriculum is no error as modern-day farming requires high-level expertise especially given the havoc brought about us by global warming,” he said. Minister Sekeramayi also said farming is not new or foreign in the military as even during the liberation war, the freedom fighters cultivated some farms under the supervision of the late national hero Cde William Ndangana to augment the food supply they got from sympathisers.

The 2016 Zimbabwe Agriculture Society Agri-produce overall winner, Retired Captain Never Makoti, was also on hand to share his farming experiences with colleagues and how he has managed to record the agriculture success he has managed on his six-hectare Kadoma plot.

For his efforts, Rtd Captain Makoti walked away with a brand new 75-horse power Case tractor, a motorbike and a plough. “Our entire plot is under irrigation, production is all year round and we specialise in green mealies,” Rtd Captain Makoti explained on the sidelines of the field day. “Basically the mathematics around it is, we invest approximately $800 per hectare for all our expenses and we get about $4 000 in returns which I must say is not bad by any means. But on a good yield you can get as high as $6 000, but I have to emphasise that this is always a bonus when it happens.

“Our selling prices are usually relatively high because our produce ripens during off peak time. The catch is also to use varieties that give good yield in a short space of time like ZAP61 which is a favourite for the green maize roasting market. We also do vegetables,” he said.

Asked how life after retirement is and if he longs for the old good days in the army, Rtd Captain Makoti, whose wife is also retired, having been a nurse for years, said he is still comfortable and has no regrets about choosing retirement. “You see, there is always a danger of one getting too comfortable when in the army and failing to prepare for life after service.

“But thanks to the land reform and the production that we are doing here, I can never long for the pay slip again. Agriculture is taking good care of me and I am happy I am also playing a part, although in my own small way, in helping to guarantee national food security,” he said.

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