Govt to spend $46bn on agriculture strategy

25 Apr, 2021 - 00:04 0 Views
Govt to spend $46bn on agriculture strategy

The Sunday Mail

Golden Sibanda

Zimbabwe will spend $46 billion on various programmes that are meant to increase production and productivity in agriculture, it has been learnt.

President Mnangagwa launched the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy (AFSTS) in August last year to facilitate focused interventions that are envisaged to grow the sector to US$8,2 billion within the next four years.

The strategy is expected to ensure accelerated growth and development.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Permanent Secretary Dr John Bhasera said 70 percent of the funding required for AFSTS programmes will come from the fiscus, while development partners will chip in with the balance.

“The budget for this year is $46 billion. We were allocated funds under the national Budget; remember, it’s a five-year development plan, so we will continue to get funds on a yearly basis,” he said.

AFSTS key targets, Dr Bhasera added, include import substitution, raw material supply, export growth and job creation.

Overall, the strategy is expected to increase agriculture’s contribution to economic output from the current 12 percent to 20 percent by 2025.

“The strategy (will drive economic growth because it) has targets like employment creation, import substitution, raw material supply to industry and export growth – these are the indicators.”

The plan is an integral part of the national development agenda.

At the launch of the strategy, President Mnangagwa said agriculture, mining and tourism would anchor the country’s quest to industrialise and modernise.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka recently said Government was working on a raft of transformative interventions in agriculture to enhance food security and grow the economy.

He said part of six major objectives of the AFSTS strategy included ensuring the country attains food security in the next four to five years.

Part of the planned projects cover horticulture, fisheries and agriculture.

The Horticulture Recovery and Growth Plan, through which 1,8 households will benefit from the Presidential Horticulture Scheme, would increase rural incomes.

Overall, AFSTS targets to increase incomes for farmers by 100 percent, create one million jobs, increase import substitution to 80 percent, including a 40 percent increase in both value addition and exports.

Ongoing interventions will see the country putting 70 000 hectares under winter wheat.

The country is expecting a bumper harvest after a successful 2020/2021 summer cropping season, which saw a 18 percent increase in area under maize to 1,8 million hectares.

Sorghum hectarage similarly grew by 5,3 percent to 322 000 ha, soyabean 136 percent to 79 000ha, cotton 25 percent to 382 000ha and tobacco 7,1 percent to 107 000ha.

Rebuilding, reforming, restructuring and transforming key agriculture-focused entities such as Agribank, ZINWA, Agriculture Marketing Authority, ARDA, TIMB, Tobacco Research Board and Grain Marketing Board is also being prioritised.

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