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We cannot afford to have idle, unproductive land - Mnangagwa

25 Aug 2019 at 08:44hrs | Views
Address by His Excellency, President Mnangagwa at the official opening of the inaugural Zimbabwe Agricultural Show at the Harare Showgrounds on Friday.

I AM honoured to officiate at this inaugural Zimbabwe Agriculture Show, following its transformation from the conventional Harare Agricultural Show. This annual event gives us yet another opportunity to reflect and celebrate the strides we have made in the agriculture sector, during the course of the year. It is most unfortunate that we are holding this event following challenges related to the El Nino-induced drought.

However, it is pleasing that this inaugural Zimbabwe Agriculture Show also highlights not just the agricultural value chain and its attendant agricultural ecosystem, but it also highlights the very important linkages agriculture has with mining, manufacturing, tourism, services and the public sectors which are also richly represented at this show.

In view of my Government's drive towards devolution and the promotion of productivity and development at the provinces, districts and wards; it is praiseworthy that the various show sections, such as the Agri-Produce, Livestock, Tobacco, Cotton, Micro-Enterprises have been reconfigured to depict this national outlook.

Furthermore, the displays in these sections, which now only incorporate winners from the various provinces, are a clear testimony that the show is undergoing qualitative improvements. This approach will increase competitiveness among farmers, while attracting various sponsors from across the nation. I am optimistic that this new thrust will also inspire exhibitors, investors and showgoers alike, to see and experience the show with a fresh outlook.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen;

The theme for this year's show "Technology, Innovation and Modernisation: Adopt, Accentuate and Accelerate" resonates with our ongoing thrust to modernise and industrialise our country leveraging on innovation and new technologies.

The theme is therefore, a timely reminder to stakeholders across the economic spectrum and agriculture in particular, to use and deliberately deploy modern technologies which spur productivity and growth.

In this regard, I call on players in the agriculture sector to facilitate the use of innovative solutions to enhance agriculture productivity. Aspects such as blockchain financing, crowd farming, precision agriculture, artificial intelligence, satellite and drone analytics and other modern-based services, should be pursued.

Those in the manufacturing sector and related industries must continue to take advantage of the vast opportunities along the agricultural value chain. It is incumbent upon us to develop agricultural systems which will provide enough inputs to manufacturing industries, and help develop competitive products for entry in the global value chains.

I exhort beneficiaries of the land reform to be farmers, not mere farm owners. The new Agrarian revolution requires beneficiaries to give due attention to improving productivity across all crops.

Let us all rise to the responsibility of feeding the nation and meeting our dietary and nutritional needs as well as producing for export. The rationale behind our historic, irreversible land reform programme was to empower the indigenous people with the greatest factor for production, which is land. We must now, therefore, roll up our sleeves and assure maximum productivity.

To attain Vision 2030, we cannot afford to have idle, unproductive or underutilised land. Equally, our captains of industry and commerce must be pro-active, by supporting agriculture and its attendant value chains. Under the Second Republic, there cannot be a "them and us" mentality. Sustainable economic growth will take all of us, working together, across all sectors.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen;

Agriculture remains the backbone of our economy and a key contributor to national economic development, in line with our national vision and aspirations. To that end, it is encouraging to note the increased co-operation between our institutions of higher learning and the agriculture sector. Greater collaboration must continue to be pursued around research, innovation and technology development.

As we prepare for the 2019/2020 agricultural season, my Government has availed the resources for a successful season ahead. Farmers under the Command Agriculture and the Presidential Input Scheme programmes will continue to receive timely support from my Government. I exhort fertiliser manufacturers, seed and chemical suppliers to equally guarantee the availability of their products, at affordable prices.

Extension workers, on the other hand, must give timely and appropriate guidance to the various categories of our farmers. Meanwhile, favourable producer prices for the various crops will be continuously reviewed by my Government to ensure profitability in the sector.

 Comrades and Friends;

As the patron of the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society, I am pleased that the show continues to complement my Government's policies, programmes and activities. Earlier today, I was privileged to lay the foundation stone for the proposed Zimbabwe Agricultural Society's state-of-the-art shopping mall, which will cost about US$25 million.

I am informed that the planned Convention Centre is beginning to take shape, while an Enterprise Centre has been completed to accommodate SMEs. This is commendable.

I also took the opportunity to tour some stands and sections of the show. I observed significant strides have been made in the agricultural sector ranging from research, seed production, machinery and equipment to agronomy agro-processing and many ancillary services. However, in view of the growing hazards of climate change, we must do more with regards to water harvesting techniques and irrigation development. The mitigation against the increasingly unpredictable weather patterns must be a top priority for those in this sub-sector.

In the same vein, I challenge the various agriculture organisations to vigorously pursue win-win partnerships that will help grow, modernise and mechanise the sector. The farming community must also establish and encourage linkages with other regional agricultural organisations to share contemporary best practices.

On our part, my Government will continue to put in place a conducive economic and policy environment for the success of all investments.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen;

I am aware of the various business interfaces, discussions and meetings that have been taking place on the side-lines of this show. These culminated with the 7th Annual National Agriculture Conference where various issues were discussed including the seasonal outlook for 2019/20, the availability of various inputs including seeds, fertilisers, tillage, finance and issues of livestock development. As Government, we look forward to receiving recommendations from these forums.

In conclusion, let us all be inspired by the achievements we have scored to date, towards rejuvenating our agriculture sector. However, we cannot afford to rest, much more work must be done.

I believe with commitment, zeal focus and unity of purpose as well as further investments, our agriculture shall be a success, going into the future. I wish you all the most successful and productive 2019 agricultural exhibition.

With these remarks, it is now my singular honour and privilege to declare the inaugural Zimbabwe Agricultural Show officially open.

God bless you all.

God bless Zimbabwe.

I thank you.

Source - Emmerson D Mnangagwa
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