The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE has been ranked as one of the countries topping in digital agriculture innovation in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).
This is according to the recently released baseline study on agricultural digitalisation in the region. The study was commissioned by the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) under the Agricultural Productivity Programme for Southern Africa (APPSA), and the two other ranked countries include South Africa and Tanzania.
According to the study, the baseline indicates that digital agriculture innovations are unevenly distributed across the 16 member states, with South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania having the highest overall number.
“About 216 digital agriculture innovations were identified by the study, which were mostly related to Digital Advisory Services, Agri-Digital Financial Services, Digital Procurement, Agri e-Commerce and Smart Farming. The most common digital Agriculture innovation was digital advisory, followed by Agri e-Commerce and digital procurement. Very few innovations were observed in the Agri-Digital financial Services component,” ready part of the study.
The study said digital innovations and technologies have the potential to transform agri-food systems by accelerating and integrating stakeholders and their work across the value chain.
“In fact, they have the potential to increase the efficiency of agriculture for smallholder farmers including, improved food availability as well as freeing up labour while keeping production and productivity high.”
APPSA is a World Bank funded initiative being implemented by Lesotho and Angola with regional coordination by CCARDESA. Angola is establishing the Regional Centre of Leadership on cassava and cassava-based farming systems whereas Lesotho on horticulture and horticulture-based farming systems.
Chief director for Strategic Planning and Business in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Mr Clemence Bwenje said Zimbabwe had stepped up efforts in the integration of digital innovation in the agriculture sector. He said in digital innovation brought about efficiency and transformation in the agricultural sector and when fully utilised it would aid in the cost of reduction, thereby increasing competitiveness in the sector. Agriculture is the backbone of Zimbabwe’s economy with 66.2 percent of the population working in the sector and contributing about 5.07 percent to the country’s GDP.
Under the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) one of the key deliverables under the blueprint is agricultural production and productivity to ensure food security. The agricultural sector is expected to improve food self-sufficiency to 100 percent by 2025.
Meanwhile, under the tabled $929 billion supplementary budget by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube, an additional $100, 7 billion will be allocated for maize procurement and preparations for the forthcoming agriculture season including speeding up the construction of several dam projects across the country.
Presenting his 2022 Mid-Term Monetary Policy Statement in Parliament on Thursday, the Minister said the additional funding in the revised 2022 budget is meant to meet increased operational costs, the wage bill and identified projects and programmes under the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement.