Oliver Kazunga , Senior Business Reporter
THE country has scaled up preparations for the 2021/2022 agriculture season with the aim of increasing crop production to meet and surpass national requirements.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, told journalists during a post-Cabinet media briefing on Tuesday that the report on the state of preparedness for the 2021-2022 agricultural season had already been considered and approved.
Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Constantino Chiwenga, who is also chairman of the Cabinet committee on food security and nutrition presented the report on Tuesday.
“The nation is informed that the 2021/2022 summer programme strategic objective is to sustainably increase crop production and productivity to meet and surpass the national requirements for both human consumption and industrial use,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“This will be achieved through the implementation of the Agriculture Recovery Plan.
“The strategy will result in more areas being put to crop production as evidenced by the proposed increase of the hectarage of the following crops: maize; sorghum; pearl millet; finger millet; soya bean and tobacco.”
The minister said the financing of the summer cropping and livestock programme will be done through the public and private sector as well as development partners. Government would finance the Presidential Crop and Livestock Input Schemes through Treasury and provide default guarantee for programmes funded through the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) and CBZ.
The National-led crop production plan for the 2021/2022 season also includes proposals on private sector programmes, categorised into potato value chain financing and private sector commodity value chain financing or contract farming.
“The nation is advised that the 2021/2022 season will witness the operationalisation of the Rural Presidential Horticulture Plan,” said the minister.
“The plan will target priority fruit trees, namely: passion fruit (Granadilla), pecan nuts, apple, guava, mango, lemon, avocado pears and macadamia.
“Each targeted household will be given 10 trees of each fruit variety, depending on suitability of the fruit tree to the agro-ecological regions and potential income to be generated.”
The first phase running to December 2021 has a target of 500 000 seedlings.
In addition, a total of 35 000 gardens will be established and each will be equipped with a solar borehole, cattle water trough and an ablution facility. Each garden will cater for a village, school or youth ward centre.
“The tobacco sector will be provided with seed money to the tune of US$60 million in order to establish a revolving fund for the local financing of tobacco to be a success,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“In the livestock sector, the strategic objective of the 2021/2022 Livestock Development Plan is to sustainably increase livestock production and productivity to meet and surpass the national requirements for both human consumption and industrial use.
“This will be achieved through implementation of programmes under the Livestock Recovery and Growth Plan such as climate-proofed livestock production involving the private and financial services sectors, access to forage and pastures, capacitating the livestock and veterinary extension and advisory service delivery system and strengthening Government-wide coordination, monitoring and evaluation.”
Government has also pledged to introduce a Presidential Rural Poultry Pass-on Scheme, which seeks to commercialise rural poultry production, thereby providing an affordable source of protein and increasing rural household incomes.
The scheme intends to distribute rural poultry chicks to at least 1,8 million rural households over a period of five years.
There is also a ‘Goats Pass-On Scheme’, which will see a total of 600 000 does and 40 000 bucks being equitably distributed to 600 000 households in all the country’s eight rural provinces this year.
It is hoped that the programme will result in 1,8 million rural households benefiting by 2023.
The other programmes to be introduced include the silage and pasture production for enhanced milk production and the veterinary public health programme.
A fisheries and aquaculture growth plan will also be implemented and will result in 60 fish ponds being developed at irrigation schemes in the country’s districts, while six cage projects will be established in selected areas.
The benefits of these programmes and projects will accrue directly to the individual households, thereby raising their standards of living, said the minister.
“Cabinet approved a raft of measures that will transform the agricultural sector once implemented. Our farmers are urged to approach their agricultural extension workers for the finer details of these programmes,” she said. — @okazunga