Zim to soon regain its bread basket status

by Derick Tsimba

Zimbabwe has potential to regain its bread basket status in Southern Africa following the various initiatives by the New Dispensation to get the country’s agriculture sector back on track.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has a dated history of implementing life changing initiatives in the agriculture sector. On Tuesday, 17 March 2019, the President commissioned Nyakomba Irrigation Scheme in Nyanga after its completion. Works of the project began in 2015 through a US$15 million grant under the Japanese Grant Aid.

The grant was utilized by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement in conjunction with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to ensure the irrigation project’s successful implementation.

Nyakomba irrigation scheme has demonstrated the will by the New Government to commit itself to turnaround the agriculture sector in Zimbabwe. Going forward, the modernisation of the irrigation schemes in Zimbabwe has a direct positive impact on farm produce output in general.

According to The Herald on Wednesday, 18 March 2020, Nyakomba Phase 2 expansion project which included the construction of new pumping facilities, improving water level control, distribution and flow measurement was also started. The new irrigation infrastructure covers an area close to 146 hectares for red chilli production targeting export markets and other crops such as maize and cotton.

Government has indicated its interest to ensure that all irrigation facilities are functional. The Herald also stated that whilst in Nyanga President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Government would prioritise the construction of dams and drilling of boreholes with a view to putting 100 000 hectares under irrigation. This initiative will be implemented in all districts countrywide.

To the same end, Government has also laid down an Agriculture Recovery Plan for the 2020-2021farming season targeting 5000 productive irrigated farms nationwide. Under the Agriculture Recovery Plan, the farms are expected to receive full contract farming support from Government such as provision of inputs, fuel and power supply.

In response to the effects of the impact of climate change on the agriculture sector, Government during the 2020-2021 farming season has assisted about 1, 6 million vulnerable households under a climate-proofed Presidential Input Support Scheme, which has enabled them to grow enough food to sustain their households and sell any surplus to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

Government through the Agriculture Recovery Plan has the capacity to change the country’s   agriculture sector through aiding the adoption of new farming methods in relation to the effects of climatic change the Southern African region is currently experiencing.

Zimbabwe has the potential to reclaim its bread basket status in Southern Africa through the utilization of its farming land under the Recovery Plan as spearheaded by Government.

Successful production of output by farmers should be increased by enabling financial support to provide them with working capital in support of their farming activities. The has already been put in motion by the creation of the Land Bank, which is going to ensure working capital to farmers is disbursed on time and other agricultural projects are funded.

The Agriculture Recovery Plan also entails resuscitating irrigation schemes. Posting on its official twitter handle recently, Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement ministry said, “Government spearheads the rehabilitation and revitalisation of 450 irrigation schemes in communal areas, including overhaul of the business model for such schemes in order to ensure viability and sustainability.”

Government even stepped up its effort to revamp irrigation projects by contracting a local company Maka Irrigation to rehabilitate 20 000 small irrigation schemes. Agriculture remains the mainstay of the Zimbabwean economy, and the Second Republic is committed to invest in the sector for it to contribute to the attainment of Vision 2030, of making Zimbabwe, an upper middle income economy.