Wilson Dakwa, Farming Reporter
THERE is a need for communal farmers to organise themselves into co-operatives so as to enhance the productiveness of their agricultural enterprises, a Cabinet Minister said.
Speaking at the Umguza District Agricultural Show held at Nyamandlovu on Thursday last week Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister Dr Obert Mpofu who is also Umguza representative in the National Assembly, said farmers stand to benefit more through sharing ideas and pooling resources as groups.
“Forming agricultural groups promotes a purpose of unity and improves farmers’ knowledge as they are likely to enlighten each other on various farming related issues. It also makes it easier for the Department of Agricultural Technical and Extension Services officers to teach the farmers on how to enhance their yields because some of them might be doing inappropriate things that might hinder their potential harvest,” said Dr Mpofu.
An agricultural co-operative, also known as a farmers’ co-op, is a grouping where farmers pool their resources in certain areas of activity.
A broad typology of agricultural co-operatives distinguishes between agricultural service co-operatives, which provide various services to their individually farming members, and agricultural production co-operatives, where production resources (land, machinery) are pooled and members farm jointly.
“These meetings create awareness and encourage farmers to boost their harvests. Umguza is the breadbasket of Bulawayo as we supply it with various horticultural produce such as potatoes, tomatoes among other produce. We have water in abundance, land and expertise to enable us to supply the entire nation,” said Dr Mpofu.
He also praised the Government’s Command Agriculture Programme as a positive move towards improving the country’s food security.
“We fully support the Command Agriculture Programme which will increase the nation’s food security and in turn restore the nation’s status as Sadc’s breadbasket. We thank His Excellency (President Mugabe) for the inputs and support he has given us because Command Agriculture will also put us on the map of Africa as we will export surplus grain and generate export revenue,” said Dr Mpofu.
The agricultural show was organised by the Umguza District Society in conjunction with Agritex and various stakeholders. The initiative started in 2012 in Nyamandlovu and the exhibition went on to be held in Upper Rangemore, Redwood, Ntabazinduna and Highfields.