The Sunday Mail
Levi Mukarati in MATOBO
PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday expressed satisfaction with the progress registered under the Command Agriculture programme, saying he was confident it was bound to be a success. Speaking as he delivered his keynote address at the 21st February Movement celebrations held to commemorate his 93rd birthday here, President Mugabe said unlike blanket programmes that targeted subsistence production of maize, the command agriculture programme hinged on irrigated lands to ensure national food self-sufficiency.
The President spoke in the wake of sentiments by Youth League national secretary Cde Kudzanai Chipanga that Command Agriculture had not benefited communal farmers.
The Command Agriculture programme was launched last year by President Mugabe who mandated Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to supervise its implementation.
Unlike the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme which helps communal farmers with inputs, the Command Agriculture programme is sector-specific, targeting A2 farmers with access to irrigation facilities.
The programme aimed to produce 2,2 million metric tonnes of maize, enough to meet the country’s 1,8 million metric tonne demand for both domestic and livestock consumption annually.
The success of Command Agriculture over the summer cropping season has prompted Government to escalate it to Super Agriculture, targeting to put 50 000 hectares under wheat over the winter season.
“There has been reference to our command agriculture yatakaita adopt,” he said.
“I think you will agree that it has been one of the best ways of getting ourselves in a situation against hunger.
“We wanted to start by using the waters in dams and organising the people around those dams and at that time it didn’t appear to us that we could adopt command agriculture where there was no water, moreso that we were at that time suffering from drought.
“But nevertheless, for the ordinary communal farmer, we have programmes, (the) Presidential programme supplies seeds and inputs and we are carrying that programme right through from 2016 to 2017.
“And that programme surely cannot be adopted where dams don’t exist.”
President Mugabe said he was glad that the heavens had opened up this year with most parts of the country getting good rains.
“I am glad this year God has blessed us with so much rain. Tinotenda Mwari madhamu akazara, mamwe akazarisisa zvekuti akaita overflow (We thank God, the dams are full and overflowing).
“Zvinotipawo zvakare kuti mvura yepasi inonyura iwande because matsime atinoita kuye kwatisina madhamu anezenge achiwana mvura yakawanda (It also gives us groundwater which ensures water for our wells in areas without dams).”
Zimbabwe has received normal to above normal rains in most parts of the country, a development that has boosted the chances of a bumper harvest. The anticipated harvest comes on the back of a severe, El-Nino induced drought that ravaged the country last year and manifested in crop failure that saw Government importing grain to ensure national food security.