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Zimbabwe imports 56% dietary needs

by Staff reporter
14 Aug 2020 at 09:53hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE is struggling to produce enough for its dietary necessities, importing 56% of its requirements every year businessdigest has learnt.

The Southern African country, once regarded as the breadbasket of Africa, now produces one-month supply of soya and wheat and five months' supply of maize.

This is against the national annual wheat/ flour requirement of about 350 000 tonnes and over 800 000 tonnes of maize.

Industrialist and United Refineries Ltd CEO Busisa Moyo said there was need for the country to prioritise localisation of its value chain especially in the agricultural sector.

Moyo added that bankable and transferrable title for individual and corporate farming, as well as structured and competencebased financing for farming, are key.

The government is still to resolve the thorny issue of the bankability of 99-year leases. The delay has resulted in farmers failing to access bank loans as they cannot use the land they have as collateral.

"This is what we produced for the last three years annually. One month supply of soya, one month supply of wheat and five months' supply of maize, the rest of the months we import. Our best qualified farmers need to be resourced to farm, by the banking sector. Private and corporate farming contracting should also be structured with the assistance of Ministry of Finance guarantees in the meantime for a meaningful output," Moyo said.

"Extension service personnel have to be capacitated to train both medium and small-scale farming. We will have to move away from maize dependant agricultural sector and include small grains which are better suited to our climate and are now becoming the nutritional preference even in urban areas."

Moyo said it is vital to rope in women and youth to boost production.

"The youth and women have to be mainstreamed into on the job training and other farming support occupations and incentivised to produce instead of pursuing theoretical subjects. The-PFumvudza project (which involves the utilisation of small pieces of land and applying the correct agronomic practices for higher returns) under the Ministry of Agriculture and the foundations for farming initiative by the churches is a promising step provided that it is well managed and farmers are held accountable for support," Moyo said.

Climate change has also contributed to the looming food crisis which is worsened by the deteriorating state of the economy. Although tobacco is moving back up to levels where it was 15 years ago, it is at a huge expense to the environment with 300 000 hectares of trees being cut down to cure the crop each year.

Milk production is down by 80%, beef is down by 80%, coffee down by 90%, paprika down by 95%, while wheat has also decreased by 95%.

On the other hand, the manufacturing sector production has fallen nearly 70%.

Moyo, however, said it was possible to revert back to the days of producing adequate food for the country.

"The country is simply not producing enough for its dietary requirements. We have to put our heads down and get it right by growing national output from agriculture. It starts with education and training but it is possible," he said.

As the country continues to suffer foreign currency shortages, Moyo said the mining sector remained the main foreign currency earner in Zimbabwe with a silver lining being that gold has breached the US$2 000 mark.

Should the country continue to fine tune the gold sector for optimum national benefit as well as grow output and value add to build resilience against price shocks, a breakthrough could be achieved, Moyo said.

Source - the independent