Country ready for summer cropping

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AS the winter season comes to an end, Government has stepped up preparations for the 2021/2022 summer cropping season. 

Presenting a post Cabinet briefing Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Cabinet had approved a number of measures that would transform the agricultural sector once implemented.

Mutsvangwa said Cabinet had considered and approved the Report on the State of Preparedness for the 2021-2022 Agricultural Season as presented by the Vice-President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Constantine Chiwenga,who is also Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Food Security and Nutrition.

“The nation is informed that the 2021/22 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,” she said. 

“This will be achieved through the implementation of the Agriculture Recovery Plan.”

Mutsvangwa said under the plan, Government would ensure farmers were capacitated in time. 

“The plan is anchored by the timely provision of inputs such as fertilisers, seed, fuel and agrochemicals; consistent supply of key utilities such as power, fuel and water to farmers and access to appropriate finance for inputs and working capital,” she said. 

“Under the plan there will be the involvement of the private and financial services sectors, continuous support of the targeted farmers with irrigation and mechanisation services to improve efficiencies and climate proofing; capacitating the extension and advisory service delivery system to enhance responsiveness to farmers’ needs; and strengthening Government-wide coordination, monitoring and evaluation.”

Mutsvangwa said the strategy would result in more area being put under crop production as evidenced by the proposed increase of the hectarage of crops including maize, sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet, soya bean and tobacco. 

Turning to livestock production, Mutsvangwa said the financing of the Summer Cropping and Livestock Programme would be through the public and private sector as well as Development Partners. 

“Government will finance the Presidential Crop and Livestock Input Schemes through Treasury and provide Government default guarantee for programmes funded through Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) and Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ),” she said. 

The National Crop Production Plan for the 2021-2022 season  includes proposals on Private Sector Led Programmes, categorised into Potato Value Chain Financing and Private sector Commodity Value Chain Financing or Contract Farming.

Mutsvangwa said during the coming season the Rural Presidential Horticulture Plan would be operationalised. 

“The plan will target priority fruit trees, namely: passion fruit (Granadilla), pecan nuts, apple, guava, mango, lemon, avocado pears and macadamia,” she said. 

“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.”

Mutsvangwa said other strategies in the crops sector included the localisation of tobacco financing in order to optimise the net export benefits to 30 percent from the current 12,5 percent. 

“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,” she said. 

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,” she said. Government would 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,” said Mutsvangwa. 

“The Scheme intends to distribute rural poultry chicks to at least 1,8 million rural households over a period of 5 years,” she said. 

“The Goats Pass-On Scheme will see a total of 600 000 does and 40 000 bucks being equitably distributed to 600 000 households in all the country’s 8 rural provinces in 2021. 

“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, Veterinary Public Health Programme, in order to improve quality and quantity of livestock as well as improve milk production.

The Fisheries and Aquaculture Growth Plan will 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 at the Muchekeranwa, Osborne, Mutirikwi, Nerutanga, Marovanyati and Chivhu dams. 

“The benefits of these programmes and projects will accrue directly to the individual households, thereby raising their standards of living,” she said.

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