Tuesday, May 21, 2013

(SUNDAY MAIL ZW) President Mugabe reassures farmers
Sunday, 19 May 2013 00:00
Emilia Zindi Agriculture Editor

Government will continue to support farmers to enable them to increase agricultural productivity and ensure they fully utilise land allocated under the land reform programme, President Mugabe has said.

Speaking at the launch of the Food and Nutrition Security Policy in Harare on Friday, the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said the country’s traditional high yields continue to be affected by factors such as recurrent droughts.

He said the Western-imposed economic sanctions on the country also hamper maximum production by starving farmers of finance to purchase inputs, farm implements, maintain infrastructure and establish new irrigation systems.

He added that agricultural input packages must be designed to have an immediate impact on farm production.

“Taking cognisance of the critical importance of food and nutrition security, Government took a variety of measures aimed at promoting agriculture in order to increase food production output on the farms.

“These measures included agricultural subsidies, establishment of schemes to assist farmers with inputs, and the development and promotion of irrigation agriculture.’’

The President said the envisaged Irrigation Development Policy would help farmers access cheap finance to rehabilitate and set up irrigation facilities to mitigate drought.

He said the land reform programme had become the cornerstone of food and nutrition security as the majority of Zimbabweans now have access to agricultural land.

“Government will continue to take measures that empower our farmers, especially small-holder farmers and women, so that they access cheap finance, knowledge on climate change and the environment, smart farming systems, infrastructure and farm machinery,’’ he said.

“As a nation we need to be self-sufficient and self-reliant.

“A nation that cannot feed itself is highly compromised and vulnerable.”

He said Zimbabwe’s focus on a food and nutrition security policy had its roots in the 1992-93 drought which was the worst in the country’s living memory.

The lessons learnt from the campaign to mitigate the effects of that drought pointed to the need for a permanent mechanism for responding to food and nutrition challenges facing the country, both in drought and non-drought years.

He said it was noted that the country needed a policy framework that facilitated the implementation of co-ordinated and multi-sectoral interventions to the country’s food and nutrition situation.

It was in this regard that the Government established the Inter-Sectoral Taskforce on Food and Nutrition in 1995, with the late Vice-President Simon Muzenda as chairman.

The taskforce then recommended the creation of a Food and Nutrition Council, a body which was subsequently set up through the Research Act in 2000.

“We pay tribute to Cde Muzenda for having established this technical body that is set to play a critical role in the implementation of the Food and Nutrition Security Policy,’’ said President Mugabe.

He highlighted that the goal of the Food and Nutrition Security Policy was to promote and ensure adequate food and nutrition security for all people at all times in Zimbabwe.

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