Felex Share in Zhombe—
ZIMBABWE will stop importing grain in the next two years if communities fully utilise water bodies surrounding them and maximise the use of agricultural equipment being sourced by the government, Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa said yesterday. He said no-one would starve this year as the government had put in place mechanisms to fend off the El Nino-induced drought affecting the country.
Acting President Mnangagwa, who chairs the Cabinet cluster on food security and nutrition, made the remarks during a tour of the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority’s Fair Acres Estates in Zhombe.
The Estate is being resuscitated through a public private partnership arrangement. “President Mugabe has ordered us that this business of importing grain should stop by 2018,” he said.
“Everyone in government is focusing on food efficiency in the country and we’ll be food secure if we make use of the water bodies we have as well as the irrigation equipment we continue to receive from various progressive countries. It should be farming throughout the year, no time to relax.”
On the food shortages, the Acting President said: “The government, through its structures, has people on the ground, in every ward, who take into account all the requirements. Once that is done, we move the grain into the needy areas, we have the grain in stock. Last week, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe released about $1 million of which $600,000 went towards the transportation of the grain.”
The Fair Acres Estate, which had collapsed because of the sanctions-induced economic hardships, has 500 hectares of land under soya beans and wheat. Acting President Mnangagwa said the concept of value addition and beneficiation would come into fruition once the country is secure in terms of food production.
“It’s from the resuscitation of these irrigation schemes and ARDA Estates that employment would be created for the locals,” he said. “Yes, some may say we’re over ambitious but the ultimate goal of value addition and beneficiation is to have everything produced locally such that we reap high returns. It’s possible to have milling companies at institutions like these but everyone should play a role and not wait for the government to go it alone.”
He said the agricultural equipment being sourced by the government was not coming for free and farmers would be required to pay back once they started yielding high produce.
The Acting President later toured the Doreen’s Pride Estate in Kadoma where 170 hectares of land are under maize, in another effort to resuscitate ARDA Estates.