Second Republic clear on agriculture growth plan

16 Oct, 2022 - 00:10 0 Views
Second Republic clear on agriculture growth plan

The Sunday News

Vincent Gono, News Editor

LIVESTOCK farmers in the country have been challenged to play ball in growing the national herd from  5,5 million to at least nine million to ensure that the recently reopened Cold Storage Commission (CSC) functions to its full capacity as the country strains towards an upper-middle-income economy by 2030 amid a significant growth from 5,4 to 8,1 billion agriculture sector last year.

They have also been encouraged invest in the dairy sector and grow milk production from the current 20 000 litres to 48 000 litres that are required nationally building on the foundation of growing the agriculture sector and its value chains that is being laid by the Second Republic in line with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1). 

Addressing farmers from around the country who congregated at renowned cattle farmer, Mr Obert Chinhamo’s Biano Farm in Ward 8, Umzingwane district for a field day last week, Chief Director in charge of Agritex in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Prof Obert Jiri said the opening of the CSC threw a challenge to the farmers in the livestock provinces of the country to grow the national herd that feed into the country’s beef sector and restore the parastatal to its former working glory. He said it was only proper for the farmers in livestock suitable regions to complement government efforts and make sure that the country’s state-of-the art abattoir at CSC was fully functional. 

“Unless we grow our national herd from the current 5,5 million to nine million, it will become very difficult for our CSC to function for 24 hours and that burden to provide the beef herd lies with Matabeleland which is one of livestock areas where the CSC abattoir is strategically located. We also need to continue encouraging each other and reminding our farmers to invest in the dairy sector so that the Dairiboard plant in Bulawayo is functional. There is a gap of 28 000 litres because we are currently producing 20 000 against a national demand of 48 000 litres. So, the challenge is there for our farmers,” said Prof Jiri.

Prof Obert Jiri

The chief director emphasised the importance for farmers to use every piece of land that they own saying owning large tracts of land without being productive was economically and morally wrong.

“We have a plant in Bulawayo but milk is ferried from Sedgwick to be processed in Chipinge. In Bulawayo the plant is not used because the farmers in Matabeleland have no capacity to produce milk to make the plant that was set up for them function. We want our farmers to support CSC, we want them to support the Dairiboard plant. That is what the President (Mnangagwa) mean when he says “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/Ilizwe lakhiwa ngabaninilo,” it is us who have a responsibility to grow our economy and our country. 

“Here we have seen great productivity at play. Mr Chinhamo understands the importance of productivity. Every piece of land here is being used. That’s a great attitude and that’s what we must all do with the land that we have where we stay. Its not about the size of the land but the planning and execution, the intensification. He has managed to turn his farm, in to a composite farm where he does silage and very good animal genetics where he is breeding Simmental, aquaculture and many more,” he said.

Prof Jiri urged farmers to make use of the agriculture extension that have been deployed around the country to help farmers do the right thing.

“We have 4 500 agriculture extension officers and 1 600 veterinary officers. These have been capacitated with the requisite knowledge and tools of the trade to ensure our farmers get all the assistance that they need.”

He said they have adopted the rural development 8.0 model where programmes as Intwasa/Pfumvudza climate proof agriculture, the cotton programme, tick grease programme, the presidential rural development programme, rural chicken programme, presidential goat programme, fisheries programme and the vision 2030 accelerator programme were modelled and pursued. 

“Under the Presidential Rural Development Programme 25 000 villages in rural wards will each benefit from a borehole while the fisheries programme intents to make use of the more than 10 700 water bodies to grow fish,” said Prof Jiri.

He added that there was need for farmers to start hay baling programmes for their livestock adding that baling was a veld fire controlling mechanism in the community. He said it was unfortunate that the country recently lost 80 hectares of wheat to veld fires which is almost 400 tonnes of wheat.

Prof Jiri said the Intwasa programme was a game changer in the agriculture sector and targets 3,5 million households adding that it should be embraced by everyone as there was enough inputs for the programme. The field day was attended by farmer from as far as Zambia among other Government officials.

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