Dumisani Nsingo , Senior Farming Reporter
THE Government working with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), an arm of the United Nations (UN) are finalising a draft of the agricultural policy aimed at accelerating the revival of the sector and its contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In an interview on the sidelines of the belated World Food Day commemorations at Valley Irrigation Scheme at Donkwe-Donkwe area in Matobo District on Thursday, FAO sub-regional co-ordinator for southern Africa and representative for Eswatini, Lesotho and Zimbabwe Dr Patrick Kormawa said the UN agency was committed to support Zimbabwe in improving its agricultural sector.
“Through our support to Government we believe they will be able to have access to development funds so that we can develop the agricultural sector on a massive scale and increase its contribution to the GDP of this economy through value addition because we need to create jobs for the young people,” he said.
Dr Kormawa said there was a need to modernise the country’s agricultural sector to enhance its productivity.
“You cannot create jobs for young people without modernising agriculture, without linking their production to the market. We cannot create jobs if agriculture is not organised, that’s the reason we are currently finalising with Government, an agricultural policy that will show the right direction to ensure that agriculture becomes the sector that provides jobs, food, energy and whatever is associated with it,” he said.
Dr Kormawa said over the last few years FAO has been partnering the Government in rehabilitating irrigation schemes throughout the country as well as facilitating various livestock programmes.
“This country is prone to drought. Rainfall agriculture will not get the country to the 2030 aim of the President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) of making this country a middle income economy, so irrigation is key but irrigation alone cannot do it. Irrigation is part of agricultural mechanisation, as we mechanise we choose value chains that are profitable to the country and we develop all the strategies from production to market,” he said.
Dr Kormawa said livestock also play an integral role in ensuring food and nutrition.
“We are working with Government to address the issue of food and malnutrition diseases and we are currently working with one of our major partners EU (European Union) to see how we can intervene on a massive scale and deal away with that because with (the existence of) Foot and Mouth Disease we cannot access markets out of this country,” he said.
FAO sub-regional livestock development officer Dr Berhamu Bedane said the organisation together with the Department of Veterinary Services had put in place livestock diseases surveillance and monitoring mechanism to avert further outbreaks especially of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).
“As for Avian Influenza there is a surveillance, which is going on to see whether the disease is still in the country or not, here was an outbreak but it was fully controlled but we have to continue monitoring the situation just to see if it’s coming back or not. What FAO together with the Department of Veterinary Services is doing is enhancing the capacity of the country to conduct surveillance so that it can be detected (the disease) quickly so that requisite measures can be taken,” said Dr Bedane.
Zimbabwe was hit by avian influenza between May and August last year and was declared free from the disease in December.
Dr Bedane said although FMD was a challenge to control, FAO and the Department of Veterinary Services had put in place measures to curb outbreaks.
“FMD is a challenge, it’s not a disease which is easy to control but FAO again with the Department of Veterinary Services has developed a strategy to control it that requires investment. In that strategy there is a short-term and a long-term strategy that needs to be put in place,” he said.