Africa must be food self sufficient —President President Mnangagwa

Sifelani Tsiko in Kigali, Rwanda

AFRICA needs to take urgent steps to boost crop production and adopt climate-sensitive sustainable farming practices that ensure food self-sufficiency, President Mnangagwa said yesterday.

Addressing delegates attending the Africa Green Revolution Forum summit during a plenary session on accelerating food systems in times of crisis, President Mnangagwa said agriculture was the single most important economic activity on the continent.

Africa, he said, had to pursue aggressive strategies to transform agriculture in ways that could reduce heavy reliance on food imports.

The President said the Ukraine-Russia conflict has seriously exposed the continent’s weak food systems which left Africa reeling from food insecurity and rising prices of food.

“This requires our continent to be food secure and self-sufficient,” he said during a plenary that was also attended by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

President Mnangagwa is attending the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2022 which seeks to find strategies to build resilient food systems in Africa.

President Mnangagwa

The 12th annual AGRF summit for driving the agriculture and food agenda in Africa is following up on key commitments made last year and seeks to find a way forward to build resilient food systems in Africa.

The AGRF is one of the biggest forums for African agriculture, bringing together stakeholders in the agricultural landscape to take practical actions and share lessons that will move African agriculture forward.

The AGRF summit is being held under the theme, “Grow, Nourish, Reward — Bold Actions for Resilient Food Systems”.

President Mnangagwa said the continent’s agricultural systems still face a myriad of challenges that include climate change shocks such as droughts, floods, extreme heat, cyclones and other disruptions.

Africa is a net food importer, spending between US$35 billion and $50 billion annually on the importation of food, the majority which can be grown in Africa.

The President said CoP27, which is set to be hosted by Egpyt later this year, should address some of the climate change challenges facing the continent.

During the plenary, President Mnangagwa also highlighted Zimbabwe’s successful climate-proof agricultural model, commonly known as the Pfumvudza/lntwasa programme.

He said the model, now in its third year, was hugely successful and was improving farmers’ livelihoods.
Zimbabwe, the President said, was now self-sufficient in terms of its winter wheat output, estimated to be above 360 000 tonnes this year.

A total of 80 000 ha was put under wheat this year and Zimbabwe is set to get a surplus this season.
President Mnangagwa also told delegates about the country’s dam and irrigation projects, capacity building initiatives and the

First Lady’s programmes that seek to promote growing of small grains as well as her “Cook Out” initiative that aims to boost the consumption of healthy indigenous foods.

First Lady Dr Auxillia

He also highlighted the importance of intra African trade in strengthening the continent’s food systems.
Mr Blair acknowledged President Mnangagwa’s contribution in a rare move by the former British PM who had strained relations with Zimbabwe.

President Mnangagwa also called on African countries to reduce the gender disparity in the agricultural sector, in which women make up about 62 percent of the labour force.

“There can be no success in agriculture without the participation of women,” he said to a standing ovation from the audience.

The President said the continent needed to harmonise efforts to come up with concrete solutions that could enhance food self sufficiency.

Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa yesterday met Zimbabweans based in Rwanda.

During his address, he told them about how the Government was tackling problems related to currency devaluation, inflation as well as strides that have been registered in improving vital infrastructure — roads, the Beitbridge Border Post, the adoption of Education 5.0, the New Parliament and new smart city, as well as the construction of innovation hubs and industrial parks.

President Mnangagwa hailed diasporans in Rwanda for being patriotic and for taking interest in developments in the country.

“President Paul Kagame told me that he is proud of you and that you are patriotic,” he said.

“I’m happy that you are good ambassadors of Zimbabwe.”

Diasporans said they wanted land and the President said Government would explore ways to avail them land which was being under-utilised or alternatively he was ready to give 500ha and above to serious farmers who wanted to invest in areas such as Chiredzi and Kanyemba.

“Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo. Japan was built by the Japanese, America by the Americans, Germany by the Germans and Zimbabwe must be built by Zimbabweans,” he said.

“Our development has been constrained by sanctions. We have had no credit lines for 22 years. We developed on what we killed, we eat what we kill.”

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