The Sunday Mail
Business Reporter —
THE country’s agricultural sector is expected to grow by 12 percent next year spurred by higher output in tobacco, maize and milk production, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.
Last year, the agriculture recorded a growth decline of -3,7 percent on the back of a severe drought, which impacted heavily production.
The drought, which affected most parts of the Southern African region due to the El Niño weather phenomenon, left up to 36 million people across the region in need of food aid.
In Zimbabwe, the drought resulted in crops such as maize, recording a measly 511 000 tonnes, against the average national requirement of 1,8 million tonnes, leaving an estimated four people in need of food assistance.
This saw the country having to import additional grain mainly from Zambia and Mexico, resulting in a huge import bill for the country. However, presenting the 2017 National Budget last week, Minister Chinamasa said the agriculture sector would rebound next year.
“. . . in 2017, agriculture is projected to grow by 12 percent driven by higher output from major crops such as maize, cotton and tobacco, as well as milk production.
“The distribution of the rainfall pattern will influence the outcome of the agricultural performance, and any weakening of the La-Nina effect on the anticipated normal to above normal rainfall would compromise the season,” said Minister Chinamasa.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently launched the command agriculture programme, under which the country is targeting to produce two million tonnes of maize on 400 000 hectares of land.
The programme will see 2 000 farmers being given inputs, irrigation and mechanised equipment to produce maize. Once the two million tonnes are achieved, the country would have surpassed the national average tonnage of 1,8 million tonnes, implying that there would be no food shortages in the country.