Let’s commit to agricultural production

Government has once again come in a big way to support the agricultural sector by providing critical farming inputs to resettled farmers ahead of the summer cropping season. As we reported on Monday, Government will in the 2015-16 farming season provide inputs valued at $28 million to benefit over 300 000 resettled farmers and the vulnerable under the Presidential Well-Wishers Input Scheme as part of efforts to increase food security in the country.

\r\n

Food security is one of the key pillars of Government’s economic recovery blueprint, Zim-Asset which was launched in 2013 and covers the period to 2018. The latest gesture by Government amply demonstrates its commitment to agriculture as the backbone of the economy. The inputs will be distributed to farmers across the country in the next few weeks.

\r\n

The inputs, however, come amidst indications by the Meteorological Services Department that the country could be headed for a bad season. Much of the country is forecast to receive normal to below normal rainfall.

\r\n

Taking this into account, the department has advised farmers, particularly those in traditionally low rainfall areas, to opt for fast maturing, short season varieties and farmers in general to stagger their planting as a way of spreading risk across the season. Farmers who have access to irrigation facilities have been urged to make maximum use of these resources instead of waiting for the rains.

\r\n

The inputs come in the wake of the recent distribution by Government of farming implements and equipment under the More Food For Africa Programme in partnership with Brazil.

\r\n

At the risk of repeating what we have said in the past, we believe Zimbabweans need to take farming seriously, those who got free land and those in production who need raw materials. That means everyone must commit themselves to the success of agriculture at this stage of national development to guarantee food security and national stability.

\r\n

For its part, Government must ensure that the Grain Marketing Board is fully funded so that it pays farmers on time. This will in turn obviate the need for huge capital outlays by Government every cropping season. If paid on time and adequately trained in basic accounting, farmers should be able to work out their budgets and fund their operations.

\r\n

With timeous, regular payments, more farmers will have an incentive to invest more in food production. Thus far, the GMB has not been a good paymaster and many farmers have been forced to join the more lucrative tobacco sector, with its negative impact on the environment.

\r\n

We also believe if farmers were paid on time, they should be able to insure their business against the vagaries of weather to reduce wide swings in grain output depending on rainfall patterns from one season to the other.

\r\n

So far we also feel that banks have not played their part to make a success of Government’s revolutionary land reform programme. Many of them have remained trapped in the politics of white commercial farmers and demand collateral security that is more onerous than in the past.

\r\n

Farming and the land reform programme are still viewed in purely political terms as a Zanu-PF project. This is very unfortunate. The overall objective to open the economy to a majority of the formerly marginalised Africans is lost to some.

\r\n

We believe what Zimbabwe requires at the moment is everyone’s commitment and application of all our talents to make a success of our political and economic revolution. That we can all proudly say we have achieved once the nation is assured of food self-sufficiency.

\r\n

Yes, we can, if only we all committed ourselves — Government, resettled farmers, GMB, banks and insurance companies. Seed producers and fertiliser companies must also play their part by supplying their products at an affordable price.

\r\n

From our joint effort, the burden is lessened.