The Sunday News
Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
VICE-President Dr Constantino Chiwenga has said Zimbabwe has immense potential to become Africa’s breadbasket if farmers embrace Government policies such as Command Agriculture and maximise use of local resources.
In a speech read on his behalf at the official opening of the Victoria Falls Agricultural Show by Minister of State in his office Mrs Evelyne Ndlovu yesterday, Dr Chiwenga challenged farmers to produce for export and contribute towards the 2030 vision for an upper middle class economy.
He said Command Agriculture has proven that Zimbabweans can be their own economic liberators.
“This show marks another milestone towards fulfilment of our goal as Government for self-sufficiency in food security, balanced nutrition and value addition at household level and the nation at large.
“Agriculture is one of the key drivers of the green economy and can address issues of livelihoods and food security and Government subscribes to the implementation of policies that promote a green economy.
“As Government we encourage sustainable development by optimising use of natural resources and maximising irreversible environmental damage, water production and pollution. Water harvesting is one of Government programmes to harness this precious liquid for both consumption and irrigation and let’s all join hands in this programme as communities and the private sector for us to achieve our food basket status for Sadc which we had a few years ago,” said Dr Chiwenga.
The Victoria Falls Show is a district exhibition which attracts rural small-scale farmers, business community, including SMEs, Government ministries and agencies and academia.
Dr Chiwenga said the resort town and the whole of Hwange district should take advantage of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to use its untapped potential in horticulture production and exports of high end teak and mahogany furniture, fish farming, production of oils and small grains targeting tourists. He implored farmers to use the show as a springboard to reach international markets though value addition.
“The Victoria Falls International Airport now competes favourably with other major airports in the region as it can now land any large aircraft in the world. Therefore farmers must take advantage of the upgraded airport to export horticultural products to different niche markets across the globe,” he said.
Local farmers should also venture into citrus fruits production for export taking advantage of hot climate like Beitbridge district, added VP Chiwenga. He said the Government had expanded Command Agriculture to include livestock, wildlife, fisheries and small grains which are favourable for Matabeleland North.
The VP said Command Agriculture requires private sector participation for funding. He implored Victoria Falls Municipality to allocate land to the show for a permanent exhibition site.
Dr Chiwenga said the show’s theme: “Building Green Economic Linkages and Beneficiation Networks” resonates with President Mnangagwa’s 2030 vision as it challenges Zimbabweans to attach great importance to the sustainable utilisation of resources and beneficiation to advance industrialisation of the economy.
Show organiser Mr Tendai Moyo said his vision was to attract regional exhibitors while Zimbabwe Agricultural Show Society chairman Mr Ivan Craig concurred saying the organisers should take advantage of proximity to the border.
Victoria Falls Mayor Councillor Somvelo Dlamini said the local authority will support the show as it is a platform for farmers to learn modern farming skills and share ideas. There were more than 70 exhibitors including 18 SMEs.