Farirai Machivenyika, Harare Bureau
President Mugabe has said Command Agriculture introduced by Government last season has achieved its intended purpose of stimulating economic growth, as it helped boost food production.
He was speaking while officially opening the 107th edition of the Harare Agricultural Show.
“Last year, my Government intervened pro-actively to stimulate agricultural production with the accent on ensuring food security,” he said.
“Government employed Command Agriculture as its latest strategy to achieve economic growth.
“The Command Agriculture entails providing farmers with the requisite resources and technical skills, to optimally produce specific crops.”
President Mugabe said the emphasis under Command Agriculture last year was on maize, with farmers receiving seed, fertilisers and farm machinery and implements.
“As a result of this strategy, Zimbabwe is expecting a bumper harvest in excess of two million metric tonnes of maize,” he said. “Deliveries are in progress as we speak.
“This year, the programme has been extended to wheat and cattle production. The goal is to progressively roll it out to encompass other aspects of agriculture.”
President Mugabe said the success of agricultural reforms implemented by Government at the turn of the century was increasingly becoming evident, as witnessed by the bumper harvest expected this year despite falsehoods peddled by the country’s detractors.
“With each Show, the transformative impact of the far-reaching agricultural reforms we have implemented over the last decade or so becomes more and more evident,” he said.
“When we have had a good rainy season like the one we have just had, the results of our land reform programme become more evident, and that exposes the false propaganda of our detractors.”
President Mugabe called for increased collaboration by all stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
“May I also underscore the need for increased collaboration by stakeholders to ensure that agricultural production and productivity are enhanced and sustained,” he said.
“I understand you have introduced an ‘11 Tonne Plus Club’ in which you are promoting maize productivity. It is through increased productivity that we will be able to ensure food security for our growing population.”
President Mugabe said financial institutions should increase their support to farmers.
“I urge inputs suppliers, from seed, fertiliser and agro-chemical providers to work closely with farmers so that we continue to make the land reform programme a resounding success,” he said.
“Financial institutions should also come on board to provide sufficiently tenured capita, of lower interest rates, to enable both seasonal farming activities and capital investment to be undertaken.”
President Mugabe commended the quality and diversity of exhibitions he saw during his tour of stands at the Harare Agricultural Show.
He was equally impressed by the increased representation of mining companies at the annual event.
Command Agriculture was adopted by Cabinet after the realisation that farmers could do more with support from Government.
After the farmers received inputs and other necessities, they would be compelled to pay back through delivering five tonnes each to the Grain Marketing Board.
Coupled with good rains received in the past farming season and the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme, another Government sponsored programme, farmers harvested enough grains to start stocking the strategic grain reserves.
GMB has been overwhelmed by deliveries from farmers, especially of maize, as the grain selling season continues.
Support for Command Agriculture is in the forthcoming farming season expected to be increased to more than $400 million, up from $162 million committed last season.