The Sunday News
Government has set in motion a comprehensive plan to promote start-ups in the agriculture sector and drive rural industrialisation through value addition of agricultural produce, among interventions meant to unlock inherent value in the sector, President Mnangagwa has said.
The plan, which is pivoted on devolution, involves nurturing agro-processing start-up enterprises in rural areas through financial and technological support via venture capital funding and Government agencies.
President Mnangagwa has already set up a high-level taskforce spanning several ministries that is set to design and implement the strategic interventions that are envisaged to swiftly turn small farming enterprises into self-contained agro-processing businesses.
Writing in his weekly column published in this issue and our sister paper, The Sunday Mail, the President said the programme will facilitate seamless entrance of more local players into sectors currently controlled by monopolistic conglomerates. Government will also support development of agriculture value chains in all rural provinces.
“With the Land Reform Programme, agriculture has become a key sector for capital formation for most people and families. And because of the many value chains emerging from it, this is one sector holding many possibilities for numerous start-ups.
It is thus more than a mere source of raw materials; it is itself a site of significant capital formation, much of it investible. There is thus a yawning gap in our agricultural ecosystem, a gap we now have to plug.”
Farmers, said the President, must now exit their traditional comfort zone of being producers of primary products and start producing finished goods.
He said Zimbabwe must draw lessons from China, whose interventions have helped lift millions from poverty through facilitating on-farm rural industrialisation.
“This is what the Policy of Devolution is about: namely to trigger and predicate economic activity in each province on resources and competitive edge which each province wields.
We have gone further. We have intimated another sub-policy to buttress the main Devolution Policy. This is rural industrialisation.
By rural industrialisation, we simply mean starting or launching industrial activity in rural areas, based on factor endowments in each rural space. Those endowments become the definers and drivers of the industrial activity we envisage in any one area.”
He said among the many objectives of the programme was to stem rural-urban migration.
Government, he added, has already laid the preparatory groundwork for the transformation through, among many other things, establishing tertiary institutions, including vocational training centres in rural areas and intensifying the rural electrification programme.
Growth points have also been established and are gradually transforming into sprawling semi-urban settlements.
Implementation of the programme involves several ministries and Government agencies.