Wednesday, August 15, 2007

‘Govt to prioritise agriculture’

‘Govt to prioritise agriculture’
Business Reporter

GOVERNMENT will this year finance a minimum two million hectares of maize, sorghum and millet, as part of efforts to boost agricultural production. In his National Heroes Day address at the national shrine, President Mugabe underscored the importance of maximising land use to boost agricultural productivity to ensure the country achieves food security and self-sufficiency.

Government would also finance a planned minimum of two million hectares of maize, sorghum and millet through Agribank and Operation Food Security, while individual farmers, corporates and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Agricultural Sector Productivity Enhancement Facility would finance the remaining 600 000 hectares.

"Government is very clear about its programmes and continues to prioritise agriculture as the mainstay of the economy.

"Accordingly, we are committed to ensuring land use is maximised in order to boost agricultural productivity and achieve the important goal of food security for the nation.

"In this respect we are already benefiting from a special agreement for the supply of agricultural machinery, which we entered into with the China National Machinery and Equipment Company," he said.

The country has already received some agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, tractors and other chemicals under the arrangement.

Early this year Government through RBZ in conjunction with the Ministry of Agricultural Engineering and Mechanisation also launched an agricultural mechanisation programme, whose thrust is to boost the agricultural sector through manufacturing of equipment such as tractors, fertilizer spreaders, planters, boom sprayers, disc harrows, ox-drawn ploughs and scotchcarts.

President Mugabe said: "The objective of the programme is to sufficiently and efficiently equip farmers with various implements in tandem with other logistical and back-up support.

"The expanded programme will continue to empower all farmers, including special interest groups such as war veterans, women, communal and A1 farmers."

To this end Government has also embarked on training beneficiaries of the programme on appropriate and efficient use of the equipment, while tertiary institutions have also commenced complementary training to produce skilled personnel who can repair and maintain the implements.

The programme has also benefited other sectors of the economy such as the manufacturing sector, as it entails that local companies manufacture and assemble some of the farm equipment.

Agro-dealers’ capacity levels, which had hit a record low of below 25 percent, had since improved with the advent of the programme.

Local companies participating in the programme were drawn from the Agricultural Dealers and Manufactures Association for standardisation and quality control purposes. These include Zimplow (Private) Limited, Bain New Holland, Radar Castings, Hastt Zimbabwe, Dunlop Zimbabwe Limited and Agricair (Private) Limited, among others.

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