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Agric Minister calls on 9mln small-holder farmers to adopt business models and transform into surplus growers

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By Reason Razao

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AGRICULTURE Minister, Anxious Masuka, has appealed to the estimated 9, 2 million subsistence food growers to practice business-led farming if the country is to self sustain.

Masuka, who was speaking at field day at Arusha farm in Goromonzi, said it was time farming evolved to be a surplus-oriented business.

“We aim to transform the 61% of the rural population, some 9, 2 million people, from being subsistence farmers to surplus-oriented farmers,” Masuka said.

“We aim to transform the 360 000 A1 farmers from surplus-oriented farmers to seasonally successful commercial farmers.

“Additionally, we aim to transform the 23 000 A2 farmers from commercial farmers to perennially successful businessmen and businesswomen,” he added.

In Zimbabwe, agriculture employs more than two thirds of the labour force.

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“This is do-able if only agriculture is treated as a business. The business of agriculture takes place on land, so land is an economic enabler.

“Land is a finite resource against a background of an ever-increasing population. As such, not everyone wishing to do the business of agriculture can get land. In light of this, we encourage joint ventures,” said the minister.

Currently the nation is in the midst of implementing an Agricultural Recovery Plan, which seeks to eliminate imports of cereals.

“We have an ambitious target to develop 350 000 ha of irrigable land by 2025. In this regard the area under wheat has increased from 34 000 ha in 2018 to the current record area of 80 885 ha with an expected record crop of 386 000 metric tonnes.

“We now have the firm summer plan for the anticipated record maize production of 3 million MT, out of 1, 94 million ha, a record tobacco crop of 269 million kgs and a record cotton crop of 250 million kgs and a record traditional grains crop of 500 000 metric tonnes” said Masuka.

Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) Chairman, Tafadzwa Musarara, lauded the land reform programme, saying farmers had heeded the call to utilize soils profitably.

“We are grateful to the land reform programme. We can see that the country has started benefiting from these initiatives,” he said.

Musarara encouraged small farmers to take the opportunity to grow grains and contribute to the country’s cereal production.