By ZBC Reporter
GOVERNMENT says it is fully committed to transforming the agriculture sector to cut imports, retain the country’s regional bread basket status and accelerate the attainment of Vision2030 goals.
This came out during Vice President and Health and Child care minister Retired General Dr Constantino Chiwenga’s tour of middle Sabi and Chiredzi to assess the maize winter crop this Wednesday.
Vice President Retired General Dr Constantino Chiwenga accompanied by a ministerial delegation visited Farm 40 Chipangayi in Middle Sabi, a joint partnership between Skhumbuzo Todhlana, Robert Musirapano, Peter Makata and MacCarter.
The entourage proceeded to Kilimanjaro owned by Tongaat Hullet before assessing progress at Chilonga irrigation scheme in Chiredzi.
”The reason why government embarked on winter maize is to augment the summer crops so as to boost grain reserves and meet our national requirements. Most of our GMB depots are currently under-stocked because crop production was very low in the past season due to drought. We therefore need to supplement production of grain to reduce importation,” said the Vice President.
Finance and economic development, energy and power development as well as industry and commerce ministries pledged their unwavering support for the agriculture sector.
Under the winter maize programme, a total of 8 thousand hectares has been targeted under command and non-command agriculture programme.
Under a US$40 million investment called Project Kilimanjaro, Tongaat and local financial institutions are clearing of 4 000ha of virgin land for cane fields for allocation to indigenous outgrowers as part of the empowerment drive.
Vice President Chiwenga paid tribute to Tongaat for investing in food security, which allows the country to preserve foreign currency by reducing the food import bill.
“We are our own liberators in terms of economic development and why should we export our sweat when we have the land and the water. It’s better for local companies to grow the maize we import and then we buy from them,” he said.
“We need to create jobs for our people here. It’s not going to be easy, but let us meet the challenges head-on. We no longer want more exports of jobs by importing food to develop other countries’ economies.
“Forex should never be used to import food and Vision 2030 must be brought forward. We must achieve the vision of an upper middle income economy before 2030.”
Water bodies around the country should be optimally used to produce food for the nation to achieve food sufficiency and end perpetual imports of food.
Government was this year going to make sure all beneficiaries under the Command Agriculture scheme get inputs by September 1.
“CBZ should expedite distribution of inputs because we want our farmers to have inputs early this year so that they get to work when rains fall. Failure is not an option,” he said.
Farmers involved in winter maize production would get priority from Government in the allocation of fuel.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube said Vision 2030 goals were attainable if key sectors of the economy such as agriculture perform exceptionally. He assured Treasury’s readiness to continue assisting farmers to have access to cheap and affordable inputs to improve productivity.
Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza urged cane farmers and Tongaat to resolve their differences amicably while Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi assured farmers of uninterrupted power supplies.
Tongaat managing director Mr Aiden Mhere said his firm would continue to work closely with Government to help the nation achieve food security.
At Chilonga Irrigation Scheme pumping of water to the scheme has started after Government injected funds for the scheme’s revival.
VP Chiwenga’s delegation also included Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo and Minister of State for Masvingo Ezra Chadzamira.
By ZBC Reporter