Zimbabwe held the 7th Annual National Agri-business Conference this week, which ran concurrently with this year’s Zimbabwe Agricultural Exhibition Show.
The Agri-Business Forum is a yearly program that provides a platform for agro-based sectors to share pertinent aspects of agriculture, in order to improve the sector.
This year‘s forum which was attended by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Settlement, Perence Shiri and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mthuli Ncube, was running under a theme which focuses on the adoption of technology-based farming and the modernization of the sector.
“Technology, Innovation, and Modernization: Adopt. Accentuate. Accelerate”.
Minister Perrence Shiri articulated what his ministry is doing in order to accentuate the productivity and output of the Agriculture Sector.
“My ministry has already produced a draft, National Agriculture Policy Framework (NAPF) and has already embarked on the process of formulating the Zimbabwe National Investment Plan (ZAIP),” noted Shiri.
Shiri highlighted that the two policy framework is hinged on the improvement of the agriculture sector.
“These two have a strong emphasis on technology innovation in order to improve agriculture production, productivity and food security,” said Shiri.
The policy formulation comes at a time when the country is in urgent need of food aid due to the low rainfall Patten, climate change, the devastating natural disaster cyclone Idai and low utilization of arable land.
The United Nation has estimated five million Zimbabweans are in urgent need of food aid.
The ministry has come up with strategies to mitigate the negative impact of climate change and low rainfall patterns, on productivity through the irrigation initiative.
“Government has various irrigation and mechanization development initiatives such as the US$10.5 million Agribank facility under the Pedstock Centre Pivots irrigation facility from Spain,” highlighted Shiri.
Shiri noted that irrigation initiative plans are not sufficient measures that can archive climate-smart agriculture, but there is also a need for the adoption of drought-resistant crops.
“There is a dire need for the adoption and innovation of drought, heat, pest and disease resistant crop varieties and animal breeds, “said Shiri.
The deteriorating economic situation, coupled with cash shortages has caused farmers to sell their produce at the black market for cash at low prices and the black market traders then sell the grain to GMB on fair prices. The government has put in place regulations to protect the farmer’s from this unfair trade.
“Government has promulgated SI 145 of 2019 which prohibits any person who is not a farmer or contractor from selling maize to grain Marketing Board (GMB),” noted Perrence Shiri
Further, the government is also aimed at revitalizing the Cold Storage Company is which ceased to export beef and beef products.
“Government has already identified and reached an agreement with the United Kingdom headquartered Boustead Beef Zimbabwe as an investor for CSC. The company is expected to inject a total of US$400 million into CSC over a five year period,” noted Shiri.
The minister of Finance and Economic Development professor M. Ncube also encouraged farmers to be involved in contract farming.
“I urge you more and more to be involved in contract farming especially around soya and cotton, for soya it’s basically about oil..,” said Mthuli.
Banks have been reported to be reneging on their promises to support the agriculture sector as farmers are in urgent need of agriculture finances.
“I would like to call upon financial institutions to honor our negotiations and also to commend the splendid work they are doing in agriculture and the economy at large,” highlighted Shiri.
According to the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO), agriculture uses the bulk of the water and energy in the country, as such water conservative mechanisms must be adopted.
“There is a need for farmers to explore the adoption of conservation agriculture, precious farming, agriculture drones, smart agriculture solutions,” noted Shiri.
The minister also acknowledges that the land grabbing mechanism by Zimbabwe years back is irreversible as this has already empowered the majority of Zimbabweans who were deprived of their land.
SADC News Zimbabwe Correspondent