NDS1 enhancing food and nutrition security

Derick Tsimba

The agriculture sector through the National Development Strategy 1(NDS1) has potential to foster linkages in the seed to Food Value Chain for Enhanced Food and Nutrition Security. The sector aims at producing nutrition based crops to aid Government with the provision of a basic food nutrition diet needed to maintain a healthy life style for Zimbabweans.

Developing a nutrition sensitive agriculture sector in Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development has been on the backdrop because of the low productivity of farmers caused by lack of farming inputs.

Agriculture improvement has a great positive outcome towards addressing the food and nutrition sensitive productive output which farmers have been facing due to shortage of farming inputs and machinery. Provision of farming inputs and implements has been identified as one of the key unlocking factors to improve farming productivity.

Agriculture has the role of shaping the nutrition dietary consumption culture in the country through supporting the production of nutritious crops on a larger scale. 

In coming up with the means to address food insecurity, Government last year scaled up Command Farming and Pfumvudza programs in order to ensure that the country produces  enough staple food to cater for vulnerable communities, such as those found in Binga, Makonde and Masvingo areas.

The Presidential inputs scheme in 2020-2021 farming season distributed various farming inputs including maize and small grains to over a million small scale farmers. These farmers are considered as subsistence farmers who produce farm produce for consumption first before they sell any surplus and also fall under the vulnerable communities. Capacitating small scale farmers ensures that they produce food for themselves and their communities thereby reducing the burden of food vulnerability and nutrition insecurity in communities across the country.   

In review of the successful 2020-2021 farming season, Government under the NDS1 has now launched the second phase for the Pfumvudza programme.

According to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, the NDS1 seeks to improve food self -sufficiency and to retain the regional breadbasket status. The main objective is to increase food self-sufficiency from the current level of 45% to 100% and reduce food insecurity from the high of 59% recorded in 2020 to less than 10% by 2025.

The target also aims at increasing maize production from 907 629 tonnes in 2020 to 3million tonnes by 2025 and beef production from 49 115 tonnes in 2020 to 110 000 tonnes by 2025.

NDS1 should upscale and expedite irrigation rehabilitation and expansion utilising existing and new water bodies; Climate Smart Agriculture through adoption of conservation agriculture techniques and principles such as Pfumvudza/Intwasa; promote water and input use efficient technologies such as Precision Agriculture; develop stress tolerant, high yielding crop varieties;  promote traditional grains in low potential areas which are climate smart; implement commercial contract farming that is led by financial services with Government providing guarantees.

Implement a Commodity Value Chain Financing Model where private sector players are expected to finance up to 40% of their raw material requirements; implement a climate proofed Presidential input support scheme that should be anchored on the Pfumvudza/Intwasa concept which adopt conservation agriculture techniques or principles such as minimum soil disturbances and mulching;  soil fertility management through soil conditioning management practices including liming and manuring; diversify food production and consumption moving away from maize to other food crops such as potatoes and cassava;  capacitate extension services delivery;  Speeding up of mechanisation facilities for the importation of agriculture mechanization equipment; and  introduce private sector led production and marketing initiatives such as the Hub and Spoke Model for smallholder farmers to promote access to finance, inputs and outputs markets.