Friday, April 01, 2011

(HERALD) Zim’s agric sector has potential

Zim’s agric sector has potential
Thursday, 31 March 2011 22:47

A BRITISH think tank said on Monday Zimbabwe's agriculture sector had huge potential to grow on the back of agrarian reforms implemented by Government over the last decade. Zimbabwe's agriculture grew 10 percent last year, reversing a decade-long contraction.

The contraction was largely due to drought and Western economic sanctions imposed in protest against the land tenure reforms. ENK Management Consultancy, the British think tank, said the future of Zimbabwe's agriculture was immensely bright.

Chief executive Emily Walker told New Ziana, on the sidelines of a Comesa farming workshop, that Zimbabwe had good agricultural policies and programmes in place, and these would combine to sustain the sector's current growth trajectory.

"Zimbabwe has got good programmes in place through initiatives that are being spearheaded by Government and the private sector," she said.

"We can see the tremendous progress in production which could have been much higher last year was it not for hailstorms experienced in some parts of the country," he said.

Walker said Zimbabwe had relatively sound infrastructure and skills base to underpin long-term agricultural growth.

She said the biggest challenge facing the sector was financing, since traditional sources such as commercial banks were not offering long-term funding.

Walker said Zimbabwe had broader sources of financing, noting, for example, that micro-finance institutions could be drafted to fund agriculture.

Last year, local banks accounted for about US$300 million of the US$1,5 billion extended to agriculture.

The latest thumbs-up to Zimbabwe's land reforms follows another endorsement of the revolutionary programme by Britain's Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University last year.

The institute described beneficiaries of the land tenure reforms as very productive.
This contrasts with the popular private media myth that the Fast Track Land Reform Programme and subsequent land reform policies have been a failure.

The study's lead author, Ian Scoones, told BBC News: "What we have observed on the ground does not represent the political and media stereotypes of abject failure."
The study was titled "Zimbabwe's Land Reform, Myths and Realities".

- New Ziana-Herald Reporter



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