The Sunday Mail
Close to half a billion dollars has been secured for the 2018/2019 summer cropping season, as Government works towards food security and ensuring that the country’s agro-based economy gets back on the rails.
The funding, which will be availed under the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme, is 16-fold the $30 million used last season.
Addressing multitudes of Zanu-PF supporters at Pfupajena Stadium in Chegutu on Friday, President Mnangagwa said Government is already in the process of modernising the agricultural sector.
“We have the Presidential Inputs Scheme and Command Agriculture. Every farmer will benefit from either of these programmes,” he said.
“For those who benefit under Command Agriculture, they should return the loans they would have been given by Government,” said President Mnangagwa.
“But for the rest of the 1,8 million households countrywide, we have added financial resources towards the Presidential Inputs Scheme.
“We used to avail about $14 (million) to $15 million for that programme. Last summer, we used $30 million and this coming summer agricultural season, we have sourced $487 million.
“This is not a credit facility, it will be for free. We are cognisant of the fact that if we give each household inputs, they will be able to get a subsistence harvest and a surplus that they will send to GMB (Grain Marketing Board).
“So as Government, we would have benefited because that surplus will go to GMB for our strategic grain reserves,” he said.
Government, he added, has also come up with an elaborate mechanisation and modernisation programme to guarantee maximum production from agriculture, a sector that currently provides livelihoods to over 70 percent of the rural population.
“We have a programme of modernisation and mechanisation of agriculture.
“We will be ensuring that agriculture extension officers are accessible in all areas for modernisation. To date, we have trained over 3 000 officers to supervise farmers, especially those under Command Agriculture, so that yields per hectare continue to increase.
“They will also be advising those in dry areas to grow small grains and GMB will pay for all these crops at $390 per tonne.
“The small crops will not be bought at a lesser price, all crops will be bought at a uniform price,” he said.
According to President Mnangagwa, Government, through the mechanisation programme, will also avail tractors from Brazil and India.
Said the President: “The mechanisation programme will see us avail tractors from Brazil and India, but these are not for free.
“Beneficiaries will pay back over a period of two to three years.
“Apart from the tractors, we have a programme where two ministers, Perrance Shiri (Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement) and Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri (Environment, Water and Climate), are spearheading the construction of dams.
“In our programme with Spain, they are supplying centre pivots. They are bringing them in batches of 80 and these will be spread in all provinces until we get to 350 000 hectares under irrigation.
“In the event of a drought, we will be able to get a grain harvest in excess of two million tonnes to feed the nation.”
President Mnangagwa, who raised concern over land that is not being used productively, said the current land audit would see multiple farm owners being forced to choose one farm.
“If you have been allocated a farm and you don’t have the capital to produce, we will not take that land from you because it is Government that would have failed to capacitate you to be productive.
“But when I fly in the helicopter, I have been noticing vast tracts of land that are lying idle and I am wondering what is going on.
“We are currently doing a land audit and preliminary findings show that there are people who allocated themselves multiple farms and are failing to utilise the land.
“We are repossessing that land for redistribution. The land audit is not only aimed at Mashonaland West. It is aimed at the whole country and no province will be left behind.
“The are families that own many farms and vast tracts of land while others don’t have any. So we have come up with a policy of downsizing.”
Zimbabwe was once considered to be the breadbasket of Southern Africa and the current interventions are meant to reclaim that status.