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Revitalizing the agricultural sector commendable

31 Aug 2015 at 08:35hrs | Views
The State of the Nation address by President Robert Gabriel Mugabe on Tuesday 25 August 2015 outlined a ten-point economic growth plan which cannot be ignored. The revitalization of the agricultural sector and the agro-processing value chain was among the ten-point economic plan and as such it should be taken seriously since our country is an agro-based economy.

Zimbabwe, which has successfully carried out the land reform program at the beginning of the 21st century, should also show the world that it was not a malicious initiative but a move to make sure that indigenous people join economic participation which was a preserve of the white people only. The new farmers should be seen making sure that Zimbabwe reverts back to the food basket status of the region by taking the farming business seriously.

Revitalizing the agricultural sector can only be successful if both the government and the farmers come together in the utilization of land so that there is food security in the country. It is possible to revive the agricultural sector by making sure that most irrigation schemes, which have since stopped being functional, are revitalized. Some irrigation schemes in the country have not been functioning for decades. So the revival of such irrigation schemes, through the injection of funds, could see the country managing to feed its people without importing grain from other countries.

Instead of the country having to fork out a lot of money for food importation, the same money can be used in the revival of irrigation schemes across the country so that the food security in the country is restored. Zimbabweans are a hardworking lot, hence, if funds are made available for the revival of such irrigation schemes, the region could see Zimbabwe challenging for honours in the food reserves matrix.

The advice which came from the Meteorological Department of Zimbabwe recently that the country should plan for measures to counter drought every year because of the climatic changes caused by global warming could not have come at a better time. While the President has also called for the revitalization of the agricultural sector, this is the time to combine the President`s call and that of the Met office's advice so that Zimbabwe is not caught unaware. The planning for drought every year, because of the climatic changes which have seen the country getting erratic rainfalls during most of the farming seasons, could help the country have food reserves. If plans are put in place to counter drought, the agricultural sector would get revitalized as per the President's call during his State of the Nation address.

Food security in the country is possible if all the stakeholders in the agricultural sector come together to make sure that the agricultural sector have serious farmers. The government can make that possible by making sure that those farmers, who got commercial farms under the A2 program, should be retired from other employment and become serious with farming activities. It is naïve and uncalled for to have farmers who resort to "cell phone farming" when they are supposed to be on the ground monitoring farming activities on their farms.

Farming, if taken seriously can make one become a prosperous man/woman without necessarily being employed in the civil service and the private sector, hence, creating employment for people without farms in the agriculture sector and other downstream industries. The government should make sure that the land reform program continues to be successful by having serious farmers on the ground not cell phone farmers. It is difficult for someone to be successful both as a farmer and as an employee at the same time.

The government should make sure that serious commercial farmers are helped through loans from banks so that they become productive. Those who qualify to be commercial farmers and are assisted by government to get bank loans should be retired from their employment so that they take farming seriously.

Actually, those in commercial farming business should help the country retain its food basket status by willfully resigning from their employment and become full time farmers. It is naïve and unproductive to have commercial farmers employed somewhere at the same time calling themselves farmers. In such a scenario the farming business is likely to suffer as there would be no close monitoring by such people who double as employees and commercial farmers.

The land reform program cannot be said to be successful if the country is full of people who claim to be commercial farmers yet they are not capable of farming. Zimbabwe can also retain its food basket status of the region by making sure that all the people who were given land, but are not capable of farming, have their farms taken and be given to those who are able to farm.

In fact, it is possible to do that by also parceling out land to graduate students of agriculture so that they can use their expertise to utilize land too efficiently. Such graduates could also be used as farm managers by commercial farmers as a way of making sure that the agricultural sector is revived. Using agricultural student graduates would also give the country hope and trust that the land is being used by people who know what they would be doing for the country.

On the other hand the government should also revive the Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA) so that it becomes viable in its operations across the country. Once ARDA is revived it could also help the country in making sure that the food security in the country is restored. During the time when ARDA was fully capacitated and operating well, the country used to have surplus agricultural production, hence, food reserves were maintained.

So, Zimbabweans in general and the commercial farmers in particular should take the President`s call for the revitalization of the agricultural sector seriously so that the country retains its food basket status of the region.

John Mukumbo <

Source - John Mukumbo
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