Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT has emphasised the need for close cooperation between its departments, the private sector and international research institutions for the country to increase agricultural productivity for both crops and livestock.
Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri (Rtd) yesterday said it was important for research institutions to play a leading role in developing and scaling out innovations to unlock the full potential of agriculture, especially in the semi-arid regions.
“To realise full potential of agriculture in the semi-arid regions, it’s important to foster close co-operation between Government, the private sector and international research institutions to work together in order to come up with suitable and appropriate interventions to increase agricultural productivity for both crops and livestock.
“This will enhance the arid regions’ contribution to the overall GDP of our economy,” said Air Marshal Shiri, in a speech read on his behalf by the Permanent Secretary in his Ministry, Mr Ringson Chitsiko, during a Farmers’ Open Day at Matopo Research Institute.
The Farmers’ Day, which was attended by farmers from Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South was organised by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) and held under the theme: “Building resilience through crop-livestock integration in semi-arid farming systems of Zimbabwe”.
Air Marshal Shiri said researches such as the ones being undertaken at Matopo Research Institute were yielding positive results and his ministry will continue to advocate for more resources for agricultural research institutions.
“Government will do everything in its powers to strengthen resilience of smallholder farming systems in drought and semi arid areas. We’re all cognisant that smallholder farmers across the country practice mixed crop and livestock farming where cropping provides manure and draught power for cropping programmes.
“Successful integration of crops and livestock helps farmers to realise their full potential, thus contributing towards sustainable livelihoods of the majority of farmers in the small holder sector,” said Air Marshal Shiri.
The development of the small holder sector, he added, is aimed at ensuring sustainable attainment of household food and nutrition security.
“Government is vigorously promoting adoption, promotion and development of small grains and livestock value chains that are appropriate for the semi-arid regions of the country.
“To this effect, pricing of small grains through the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is equated to the main staple crop across the entire country.
“The GMB currently pays $390 per tonne for both maize and small grains,” said Air Marshal Shiri.
The minister urged farmers in the semi-arid regions to embrace the noble initiative in order to bid farewell to poverty and malnutrition.
He applauded Icrisat for their research and development work, which he said has gone a long way in improving quality of crops and animals. — @pamelashumba1