Agriculture funding poser for Government

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WE have spoken and argued about everything under the sun.
We have crafted phrases about how much our agriculture needs all our support. There is consensus that this country called Zimbabwe is agro-based and needs correct farming dynamics to set its economy on a proper recovery course.
The blueprint Zim-ASSET which must spell out the route which our economic agenda must take speaks into how much food security and nutrition must be strengthened as a pillar upon which many hopes are anchored.
And so there is no doubt Zimbabwe’s story can only be complete if the sector gets all the support is crying out for.
Obviously there is nothing new in that line of thinking, but if one looks deeply, there should be something new in how this must be done.
There is a usual call for a departure from tradition and adopt an attitude where, “it is no longer business as usual, approach.”
Just in words and commitment to paper, our agriculture sector which arguably is now a very big employer if not the biggest directly or indirectly is that piece of cake crying out for serious attention.
How that attention should be meted out considering what we have always pointed out as, ‘funding challenges’.
When Zimbabwe upon embarking on its Land Reform Programme, one bare fact is that we were going simply on our own.
As many, including President Mugabe have alluded to that fact that we are on our own, we need to focus all our energies on how we ensure that this cake that we baked on our own for our own consumption is delivered finally as a good product worth consuming.
The truth is that the Land Reform Programme was the biggest ever risk taken since independence.
It was that moment when Zimbabwe said whatever consequences were coming along; the country was willing to pay the price.
It was a risk that Zimbabwe was prepared to live with its permanent consequences no matter how cruel those results would be.
It was a risk that the Southern African country was prepared to endure even upon insults and abuses from big systems and governments.
The risk got Zimbabwe classified as a ‘rogue state’, but privately many were drooling and still are as they realise the benefits accrued by the people of this land.
Having authored that risk and persevered in it, there is a strong need to check what should constitute level two of that operation.
Grappling with funding challenges requires an acceptance that once more as we are on our own as we all have accepted, we need to take what we might just call risk two.
That risk will probably be the most important as it consolidates the land upon which the people have been resettled.
That is a risk of funding which requires deep introspection and maybe a not so popular decision after all.
It is up to our Government which has shown commitment to transforming people’s lives that, the land upon which the farmers have been resettled must be productive. Turning that land into productivity needs hefty funding and support.
That is where the element of risk should come in if we desire to make a permanent difference to this economy.
The country needs to identify how it will fund the agriculture sector to create that much needed economic stability.
Hypothetically, we could set aside a funding of US$2 billion as a start up to that endeavour.
We will all agree that getting that kind of money at once will prove difficult.
That is when then there is need to get that funding in phases over a period of time. Agriculture itself should be premised upon long-term planning than aiming for short term or overnight gains.
If we say we will give US$200 million for our maize producers in a single year through cash and inputs that should form part of the risk.
The bigger part of that risk, however, should be the realisation that some farmers will succeed under that funding and others will fail.
However, having pointed out that the exercise itself is risk number two of our agrarian reform programme, perhaps we could also have that realisation that the story is not about how much will be lost, but on the potential to realise the gain which might come out of the resolution.
This risk must also ride upon the bare fact that not all will be success stories.
But since it is a risk, we need to take it as a nation.
The funding risk is required because as land lies without being utilised it is the country which is suffering losses.
The need therefore is to understand that there is no other government that must come up with a funding risk initiative to the local farmers other than the government constituted after the 2013, July polls.
That blueprint Zim-ASSET needs to work and must succeed against all odds. Agriculture must be the important medium to drive the economy and empower the people of Zimbabwe.
The much needed financial support the farmer cries out for must be found and disbursed.
It is not about how much the country will lose by loaning the farmers enough inputs and cash.
It is about saying, “Yes we will take the funding risk.
“We don’t mind how much we might lose in the process, but we aim to just turn a few seasons into seasons of bountiful production.”
Yes funding requires that once off risk.
Many risky decisions have been taken and the land redistribution exercise stood out as one monumental one which Zimbabwe chose to live with.
I bet a million dollars that out of that risk, the fortunes of local agriculture will roll out in a different direction.
For its own people, this government must bear such consequences with a full understanding that it is for the good of the nation.
It is not playing, ‘Santa comes to town’, but an important path which could completely bring in a new breathe of air to agricultural productivity forever.
This risk two is a must do, for funding is not an option.
It is the way to go, if Zimbabwe is to create a truly successful land redistribution model to be envied by all.

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