Nduduzo Tshuma Political Editor
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has directed the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development to identify all the water bodies in the country and the people living around them so that the government can assist them with equipment to boost agricultural production. This was revealed by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a briefing before he toured the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) Ingwizi Estate in Mangwe district of Matabeleland South yesterday.
Arda and Trek Petroleum have entered into various partnerships which have seen 600 hectares of land being put under maize at Ingwizi Estate and watered by state-of-the-art irrigation equipment.
VP Mnangagwa who chairs the Cabinet cluster on food and nutrition revealed that he received the directive from President Mugabe at the beginning of the year to convey the message to Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Joseph Made.
He said the President also ordered him to make sure that all Arda farms are revived and supported. VP Mnangagwa said the country has remained resilient in the face of climate change and illegal western sanctions but needed to go a step further to affirm its independence and dignity by producing food for its citizens.
“We’ve lost many years when we failed to utilise water bodies and schemes of this nature.
“The possible explanation is that we had enough food in the country and didn’t focus on the development and mechanisation of our agriculture. Now as the government, let me assure you all that the government is focusing on everything we can do to make sure that agriculture is supported,” said VP Mnangagwa.
“I’ve no doubt that we’ve many water bodies in this country and from the information we’ve received, Mashonaland Central and Matabeleland South have lots of water bodies and very little is being done to use that water productively for the benefit not only of the province but also of the nation.”
VP Mnangagwa said the government and the people had a joint responsibility to boost agriculture in the country with the state providing assistance in terms of implements and equipment.
“With regard to families around water bodies, in the past we used to say, during the summer season, government mobilises inputs to give farmers inputs, fertiliser and seed.
“There’s now going to be a change. There’s now a new scheme where we demand that Minister Made makes sure that there’s no water body that’ll remain idle,” said VP Mnangagwa.
He said the people living around the water bodies would be empowered with irrigation equipment secured by President Mugabe from Brazil.
“Most importantly, this time we’re putting up a programme where those people around water bodies, we’ll give each one the capacity to plough, give them seed, fertiliser and irrigation equipment. It can be one, they can be a group and they’ll be supported by the government through the scheme,” said VP Mnangagwa.
“If they fail, we’ll remove them and put those who can work, that I’m saying without fear, we shouldn’t be afraid of lazy people.”
VP Mnangagwa said it was the government’s belief that Arda can contribute significantly to food security in the country and thus expects maximum production from all its 21 estates spread across the country.
He pledged the government’s support and promised to respond to requests of machinery and equipment.
VP Mnangagwa hailed the efforts by Arda and Trek Petroleum in reviving Ingwizi Estate and in the process creating more than 500 jobs.
He said with an average harvest of 10 tonnes per hectare, the estate had a potential harvest of 6,000 metric tonnes of maize from 600 hectares. That would go a long way in ensuring food security.
VP Mnangagwa also hailed plans to establish a milling company in the area and increase hectarage to be put under irrigation noting developmental prospects in the area.
The VP said he had been briefed that the local traditional leadership and the people had a buy-in on the project which creates a good environment for development.
He called on Zesa to improve its reaction time to reports of faults after Arda board chairperson Basil Nyabadza reported that some of the maize suffered moisture stress after the power utility took long to attend to electrical poles damaged by rains.
VP Mnangagwa was accompanied by Minister of State in his office Clifford Sibanda, Minister Made and his deputy Davis Marapira. Mangwe legislator and Home Affairs Deputy Minister Obedingwa Mguni was also present.