A researcher and author, GR Keeton in a journal, “The basic needs approach: A missing ingredient in development theory?” says that “the poor record of conventional development theories in reducing poverty in developing countries may result from the neglect of certain preconditions that are necessary before the people of a developing country are receptive to conventional economic stimuli.
The basic needs approach, in its various forms, focuses on some of these requirements through its emphasis on human development and the recognition that economic development does not take place in a social vacuum.”
Other scholars have argued that the basic needs approach gives emphasis on making sure that people attain enough resources so as to acquire enough wealth so that they may be able to sustain their basic needs, which among others, include shelter, access to medical care, food, water, sanitation and education.
Moreover, it talks of sharing natural resources among different classes in communities. Although some academics have punched holes on the theory, what is evident is that it has managed to transform lives of people where ever it has been put into practice, simply because it focuses on grassroots and what is happening on the ground. To some degree, it shifts away from the “economist view of measuring development”.
The philosophy is that people should be able to use their natural resources, or they should be given assistance so that they can use their natural resources. On reflection, Zimbabweans have been beneficiaries of such an approach, with the ruling party, Zanu-PF, working round the clock to make sure that people benefit from natural resources. Furthermore, the Government has gone a step further from merely availing natural resources to locals, but also giving people relevant skills and material inputs to transform their lives.
The Command Agriculture programme, which was introduced last year, coming at a time when programmes with similar aims like the Presidential Input Scheme had been in existence for years, is meant to make sure that people accumulate enough wealth to sustain themselves and meet their basic needs as it were.
The Government has also announced that the programme will be extended to Command Livestock, covering restocking, equipment, pasture development and resuscitation of the Cold Storage Commission. Some 600 000 livestock farmers in Matabeleland regions and Masvingo are already stacking hay and paddocking as part of the initiative dubbed Command Livestock.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made has been on record as saying the Preferential Trade Area Bank and the private sector were funding the programme.
“We have made the livestock industry an appendage of Command Agriculture, and have secured funds for that. This includes dairy cattle, piggery, poultry and goats. As we all know, livestock is grown in the same way that we grow crops.
Inputs such as vaccines and medicines are required in livestock rearing, and the requisite infrastructure is being put in place.
This infrastructure includes paddocks, feeding areas and water points. We are also focusing on machinery and equipment that relates to livestock rearers. There is what we call sweetveld, which you can harvest to make hay, but we need machinery for us to be able to do that.”
The Command approach by Government has already scored major success on crop production, with the country certain to record a bumper harvest, and we urge the would be beneficiaries of the Command Livestock programme to make sure the programme is another success through putting maximum effort in their work.
Matabeleland regions are likely to emerge the biggest winners, with vast parts of Matabeleland South most suitable for animal husbandry.
Now this is the time for farmers in the region to reclaim their top place in animal husbandry. This is a programme that will certainly empower a lot of communities and prove further that President Mugabe and his Government are people centred.