Editorial Comment: Effective use of productive land critical

During his interview on Capitalk 100.4 FM last week, President Mnangagwa raised serious concerns regarding agriculture productivity. Zimbabwe’s economy is anchored on four key pillars — agriculture, mining, tourism and manufacturing.

With agriculture as the main pillar, Zimbabwe’s economy has been agro-based since the days it was dubbed the bread basket of Africa

It is not by coincidence that President Mnangagwa’s Government has defined land as a strategic resource for the country that has to be utilised for maximum production.

Farmers who failed to develop their land would be put to task or fined for it as Government had already put in place support systems to boost the necessary capacity for production.

The President has been championing the Command Agriculture initiative.
Command Agriculture was initially introduced as a maize input scheme in the 2016/17 cropping season, to boost food production following two successive seasons of high imports in a country that was facing critical foreign currency shortages. Riding on its success, the Command Agriculture programme, which now includes other crops, such as soyabean and wheat, was expanded to cover livestock, wildlife and fisheries production.

The programme is purely a commercial economic initiative.
Before the introduction of the current land acquisition policy, some three-quarters of the best lands belonged to about 4 500 white farmers that made up less than one percent of the country’s estimated 13 million population.

The majority of Zimbabweans rely on land for their livelihood and in order for them to gain something from their country, there is need for Government to ensure there is production and the country regains it bread basket status of Africa.

The evolving new agriculture policy in Zimbabwe, that of one person one farm, has set in motion Government committees that oversee the redistribution of land to enable an effective use of it.

Zimbabwe redistributed land to more than 350 000 indigenous people with the desire to make use of it in a more productive way.

It is critically important that President Mnangagwa has emphasised the need for increased land production, value addition and beneficiation as the panacea of the economy under his leadership a move that is critical and must be supported by every Zimbabwean.

Zimbabwe has agro technology as well as human capital necessary for maximum production.
That the President instructed Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu to craft a Statutory Instrument to ban the exportation of raw products, is welcome.
We need to value add our agriculture produce.

It is worth noting that there are many products that are exported in semi-processed form such as tobacco, while high value minerals such platinum and chrome are exported largely in their raw state or ore state, in the process prejudicing the country of potential earnings worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Agriculture as a focus area really needs stakeholders’ special attention.
We have the land, good soils and water bodies that can support irrigation, so our agriculture is critical.
Almost many things come out of agriculture, let us look at cereal crops and do agro processing.

Shifting to value addition focus should be on tobacco and cotton — to get maximum value from the crops.
There is need to bring technology and skills into all these key areas.

While agriculture was the bedrock for the development of the country’s economy, value addition can also be done in mining and tourism sectors.

President Mnangagwa Government is working flat out to put production favourable policies. Last week, Cabinet approved the Local Content Strategy as well as the Zimbabwe National Industrial Development Policy.

The Industrial Policy is guided by the principles of value addition and beneficiation; export-led industrialisation; promotion of sustainable industrial development; gender mainstreaming and modernisation as well as upgrading of industrial equipment and machinery.

The evolving new agriculture policy in Zimbabwe of one farmer one farm has set in motion Government committees that oversee the distribution of land to enable an effective use of it.