GOVERNMENT’S mitigation efforts in the agriculture sector during the 2020/2021 summer season have yielded positive results as evidenced by the reduction in food insecurity prevalence from 56 percent last year to 27 percent this year.
Presenting the 19th post-Cabinet Report, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Government was committed to achieving its goal of ensuring a food surplus economy.
“The reduction in the prevalence of food insecurity from 56 percent the previous year to 27 percent this year is worth noting,” she said.
“This reflects Government’s ability to reduce the problem by over 50 percent compared to the previous season, hence the right step towards achieving one of the country’s goals in the NDS1, particularly of ensuring a food surplus economy.
“The 27 percent of rural households will translate into approximately 2 942 897 individuals requiring 262 856 mt of cereal (maize grain).
“A targeted movement of food from surplus areas to vulnerable areas will be undertaken since the country is generally expecting 828 263 mt cereal surplus according to the 2021 Second Round Crop Assessment Report.”
Min Mutsvangwa said the positive results in the agriculture sector were backed by farmer support programmes availed by Government.
“The findings further revealed that a well co-ordinated Government assistance programme to smallholder farmers, buttressed by the ready availability of inputs on the market and normal to above normal rainfall in most parts of the country, resulted in the country’s 2021 maize and traditional grains production increasing by over 147,5 percent compared to the 2020 harvest,” she said.
“The Pfumvudza/Intwasa Programme recorded a significant adoption rate, with 52 percent of households practising it and 56 percent of the sampled households having been trained within one year of its inception.
The nation is informed that tangible achievements have been registered in the following programmes: crop diversification; Access to Agriculture Extension Services and Agricultural Markets; Agriculture Modernisation/Adoption of Improved Livestock Practices; Access to Rural Finances; Access to Rural Infrastructure and Services; non-farm and on farm income sources; and social protection.”
This year, the country is anticipating a record maize harvest since the Land Reform Programme, with 2,8 million tonnes expected to be delivered to the Grain Marketing Board.
In the 2020/2021 farming season, crop hectarage in the country increased by
23 percent, partly driven by abundant rainfall received this season, early distribution of inputs and support of farmers by Government through programmes such as Pfumvudza.
Depressed yields were recorded in the agricultural sector over the past decades resulting in Government putting in place programmes promoting adherence to proper methods of farming for maximum production.
Issues of inadequate funding, high costs of production and failure by farmers to access advanced machinery were cited as the major drawbacks in the sector.
The change in rainfall patterns also resulted in poor yields since some farmers did not have access to irrigation facilities.
During the 2015/2016 summer cropping season, farmers were hard-hit by the effects of El-Nino that not only affected Zimbabwe, but other countries in Southern Africa.
To counter the effects of climate change, Government introduced Command Agriculture Programme under which farmers with access to irrigation facilities were supported with inputs.
Under the programme, Government assisted in the rehabilitation of irrigation facilities.
The programme targeted mainly commercial and A2 farmers.
Last year, Government launched the Climate Proofed Presidential Inputs Programme, commonly referred to as Pfumvudza.
Through Pfumvudza, projected increased food production was not only expected to impact households but go even further and contribute to the national efforts of promoting food security.
Last year, Government launched the Agriculture and Food Security System Transformative Strategy aimed at accelerating agriculture production, productivity and growth.
Apart from eliminating food imports that are resulting in a bloated import bill, Government is targeting 40 percent value addition to create about one million jobs and to increase total exports by
60 percent by 2024.
In addition, Government aims to transform about 18 000 small scale farmers into agricultural entrepreneurs by 2025.
Agriculture is the bedrock of the economy and its revival is crucial to sustainable economic growth.
The country requires 1 800 000 metric tonnes of grain and 450 000 tonnes of wheat per annum.
The sector used to supply about
60 percent of industry raw materials.
However, over the past decades, the sector has failed to meet these targets resulting in the country, which was once a surplus crop producer, becoming a net food importer.
Therefore, reviving agriculture must remain Government’s number one priority if Zimbabwe is to reclaim its status as the breadbasket of Southern Africa.
The adoption of convenient farming methods, which counter the effects of climate change, as pundits predict, will result in the country producing sufficient grain.
With the country working towards regaining its status as a grain exporter, it is hoped farmers will embrace new technologies and skills to ensure improved yields.