‘We will be Africa’s breadbasket again’

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has said a well-functioning knowledge-based agriculture ecosystem that is anchored on requisite agronomic and animal husbandry practices will ensure that Africa is food secure, as he vowed to ensure that Zimbabwe reclaims its place as the breadbasket of the continent again.

Speaking at the high-level virtual meeting on feeding Africa yesterday, under the theme “Leadership to scale up successful innovations”, the President said African countries must share experiences on technology and innovations to transform agriculture.

The high-level dialogue, that was attended by Heads of States and Government comes at a time when Zimbabwe is witnessing an agrarian revolution, thanks to the Government-initiated farming techniques such as Pfumvudza.

“We are having an agricultural revolution! Once more we shall become the breadbasket of Africa. In Zimbabwe between 2020 and 2021, crop yield is expected to increase by 199 percent for maize harvest, 128 percent for the harvest of traditional grains (and) 94 percent for cotton harvest,” the President said on Twitter.

Addressing the virtual meeting, President Mnangagwa said the Government launched the National Development Strategy 1 aimed at attaining a “Prosperous and Empowered Upper Middle Income Status by 2030,” whose main thrust is to achieve food and nutrition security and accelerate value addition and beneficiation.

The President said the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy launched last year premised on achieving a US$8,2 billion agriculture economy by 2025, is anchored on climate-smart technologies, extension services and increased innovations.

“To mitigate the challenges associated with agriculture financing, the Agricultural Finance Corporation has been established. Models of strengthening existing contract farming arrangements are constantly reviewed to increase overall agriculture productivity, profitability, and fairness, over and above the access to finance aspect.”

The President said there was a need for bold and decisive leadership to climate-proof agriculture against the vagaries of the weather as well as pandemics such as Covid-19. 

“It is imperative that we ensure the existence of a well-functioning agriculture knowledge, technology and innovation ecosystem, anchored on requisite agronomic and animal husbandry practices.

“To this end, my Government has identified an array of key programmes and projects for the transformation of agriculture. These include the climate-proofing Pfumvudza/lntwasa concept; design, construction, rehabilitation and expansion of irrigation infrastructure; adoption of efficient water use technologies; promotion of the highly nutritious traditional grains; agriculture mechanisation; as well as soil conditioning and fertility management, among others.”

Under President Mnangagwa, almost every province has a dam that is being constructed or has been completed, with the end of the rainy season paving the way for the resumption of works on projects that have been affected by the rains.

Using technological advancement, the Second Republic has also set innovation hubs and industrial parks which are housed within the country’s institutions of higher learning.

Apart from Heads of States and Government, the virtual meeting was also attended by the president of the African Development Bank (ADB), Dr Akinwumi A Adesina, president of the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), Dr Gilbeft F Houngbo, executive chairman of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, Right Hon Tony Blair and chief executive officer of the Dangote Group, Mr Alhaji Aliko Dangote.

“The development of inventions and innovations is being scaled up. These are aimed at addressing the agriculture technology gaps, specifically among smallholder farmers and communal farmers.

“Zimbabwe remains committed to supporting various continental and global efforts to end hunger. Together, let us continue to invest in agriculture, including leveraging on technology and innovation for the transformation of Africa’s food systems,” he said.

There was a marked improvement in maize yield across the country in Zimbabwe as a result of the increased amount of rainfall and good distribution from the onset of the season in November 2020 to the end of February 2021.

According to the Second Crop and Livestock Assessment Report produced by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, a surplus of over 820 000 tonnes of cereals is expected this season, the highest yield since the 2000/2001 season. herald

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