Sukoluhle Ndlovu, Midlands Correspondent
THE Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Chief Air Marshal Perrance Shiri (Rtd) has implored beneficiaries of the land reform programme to ensure maximum utilisation of land to boost productivity.
Addressing farmers and villagers at President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Precabe Farm in Sherwood on the outskirts of Kwekwe, during a field day last week, Chief Air Marshal (Rtd) Shiri said Zimbabwe should restore its status as the bread basket of Africa and that can be achieved if beneficiaries of the land reform maximise land utilisation and ensure food security in the country.
Minister Shiri said agriculture was contributing 15 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and if there is maximum utilisation of land it can revert to becoming the backbone of the country’s economy.
“We went to war to fight for liberation. The struggle then was for independence, which included land. In the mid 90s we fought another struggle of land reform and we repossessed our land. Now the struggle that we have is to work to build the country. We want all the beneficiaries of land reform programme to utilise the land they got. We want them to be productive because we want to surpass what the former occupants of the same land used to do. We want to restore our status as Africa’s bread basket and this can only be achieved if we utilise the land properly and be productive,” he said.
Rtd Chief Air Marshal Shiri said there was also a need for people to ensure sustainable utilisation of land and environment for the benefit of future generations.
“When we took land from the settlers we did not do so so that a few people would benefit. We should protect our land and environment so that our children and their children will also be able to enjoy these natural resources. The beauty with agriculture is that it does not deplete as mineral resources do but it remains relevant as long as humans live,” he said.
He said this year the country was likely to surpass last year’s harvest. Zimbabwe produced in excess of 2,1 million tonnes of maize necessitated by Command Agriculture and the Presidential Input Support Scheme under the stewardship of President Mnangagwa.
He said the country was in the process of installing centre pivots in all districts in the country to irrigate at least 200 hectares in rural communities.
The country has received 80 centre pivots from Spain and is yet to receive 50 more this year. More than 1 000 centre pivots and other farming implements and equipment are expected in the country from Brazil, Spain, India and Belarus.