Boost for 2014/2015 cropping season

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IT is less than four months before the 2014/2015 cropping season begins and the private sector has once again shown faith in the resettled farmers as witnessed by the launching of a US$2,4 billion Contract Farming Scheme.
Lasch Enterprises Private Limited and ZANU PF Youth League under the banner ‘The Joint Venture’ last week availed the scheme targeting a minimum of 800 000 farmers.
Under the scheme, farmers can access inputs of a minimum of US$3 000 depending on the size of the farm.
Beneficiaries eligible to access the scheme will be identified with the help of extension officers in the areas where their farms are located who will verify if they own land and have been producing in the past.
Identified farmers will not only benefit from the input scheme, but will also get technical assistance from Agritex officers and there is a ready market for their produce.
Companies supporting the scheme include, Hamilton Insurance, First Mutual Limited, Pannar Seeds which will be providing seeds, Nico Orgo providing fertilisers and William Bain providing farming implements.
Launching the scheme at ZANU PF Headquarters recently, Presidential Affairs Minister, Didymus Mutasa applauded the Joint Venture for supporting farmers, saying the move would help boost the agriculture sector.
“The country should be self-sufficient,” Mutasa said.
“We cannot continue to import maize from Zambia and South Africa yet we have farmers in the country.
“Such programmes will help ensure growth of the sector.
“We have been under sanctions since 1999 and this was a move meant to derail the development process of the country but we have shamed our detractors as we have devised ways to continue developing despite the sanctions.”
Contrary to reports that the Land Reform Programme beneficiaries were ‘bigwigs’ in ZANU PF, Mutasa said anyone was eligible to get a piece of land.
“The programme is still ongoing and those who want to be farmers can still get land,” he said.
The Land Reform Programme has benefited over 400 000 households whose lives have changed since being upgraded from being mere farm labourers to farm owners.
Speaking at the same occasion, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister, Dr Joseph Made, said the initiative by the Joint Venture was in line with Government’s policy to ensure food security.
Government is implementing the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset) under which it has reaffirmed its support for the sector saying food security would be its major priority.
“With such a programme in place, it means support for the farmers who will in turn grow more food for food security and nutrition,” said Dr Made.
“Beneficiaries of the programme should make use of the ministry’s departments such as Agritex, the Veterinary, Irrigation and Mechanisation for technical assistance.”
Dr Made urged beneficiaries of the programme and other farmers to produce horticulture and livestock which are on demand on the local market.
“We deal with foods that relate to these sectors such as milk, eggs, vegetables and fruits on a daily basis hence there is a market for such products,” he said. “At the moment we have to import some of these products to meet the daily demands.
“The ministry is willing to put stringent measures on the importation of such products once farmers prove that they can produce these products and meet demand.
“Once farmers promise and show that they can maintain a consistent supply of vegetables and fruits there will be no reason to import.”
Dr Made urged farmers to take advantage of the ban on GMO products such as soya beans and cereals by countries such as Mexico, China and Russia to increase production.
“There are emerging markets in the form of China, Russia and Mexico that have stated that they will only import cereals and soya beans that are not genetically modified,” he said.
“We produce these products the natural way so if we increase our production of the crops mentioned we will have a ready market.”
The country, Dr Made said, was not changing its stance on GMO products.
“We will not allow our country to be flooded with GMO products,” he said.
Joint Venture deputy director, General Tapiwa Zengeya urged beneficiaries of the programme to honour the terms of the scheme for it to be a success.
“Every contractor has fallen victim to side-marketing and other attached mishaps from contract farming,” he said.
“The Joint Venture has worked on the best ever contract farming scheme with all loopholes eliminated for failure.
“We have imbedded a Credit and Life Insurance facility for all beneficiaries to make sure our investment is secure and solid.”
“Challenges sometimes arise when it comes to the paying back part as some beneficiaries will not be willing to pay back.
“That has been the main challenge that had affected the progress of a number of programmes implemented by Government and the party.”
ZANU PF Youth League secretary for lands, Annastancia Ndlovu concurred with Zengeya on the need to follow contract obligations.
“Let us put the land to productive use as that is the only way we can defend the Land Reform Programme and ensure more contractors come to support us,” she said.
The continued growth of resettled farmers has not been without incidences as farmers have faced challenges such as inadequate funding and with contract schemes in place fortunes are expected to change.

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