By Chris Mahove
THE Command Agriculture Programme and the Presidential Input Scheme are not an election gimmicks but part of the government’s efforts to achieve self-sufficiency, president Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
He said this while officially opening the 108th edition of the Harare Agricultural Show, which kicked off in the capital on Monday.
Mnangagwa said he was confident that the country’s agricultural sector was poised for accelerated growth and called on industry to actively participate in “this inevitable growth”’.
The government announced in July this year – just three weeks before the July 30 elections – that it had set aside $154 million for the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme for the 2018 /19 agricultural season expected to benefit more than two million households.
Th e programme would see each household receiving 10kg of maize seed, 50kg of compound D and 50kg of Ammonium Nitrate fertilisers and was being distributed through traditional leaders and Zanu PF structures.
The move was viewed by the MDC Alliance as vote buying by the ruling party is it came just a few weeks before the elections and was being distributed along partisan lines.
The opposition coalition, as part of its argument when challenging the presidential election results at the Constitutional Court, cited the distribution of maize seed as one of the vote buying technics used by Zanu PF.
But President Mnangagwa said the programme, together with the command agriculture, were honest policies meant to improve the livelihoods of all Zimbabweans.
‘The command agriculture and the presidential input scheme are not an election gimmick but a fact of life to modernise and secure food security for our motherland. Unity of purpose will ultimately result in improved performance of our agriculture’ he said.
He said the bumper harvest achieved last season was a result of the two schemes and should inspire the nation to work hard and improve the supply of raw materials for agro-based industries.
The two programmes, he said, which had been targeting maize growers, would now be extended to wheat, soya beans, cotton, small grains as well as livestock, fisheries and wildlife.
The President said the country needed to be innovative in order to improve its agricultural productivity and achieve market competitiveness.
‘In this regard, I exhort stakeholders to enhance our research and development competencies to improve productivity across all sub-sectors in the agriculture sector.
A new system would also be introduced where provinces would plan and develop their own economies towards a defined provincial Gross Domestic Product which would in turn contribute to the national GDP.
‘As patron of the Zimbabwe Agriculture Society, I will seek to reform and strengthen this concept of agriculture shows by linking them to provincial economies, a feature that will be given priority under my administration,’ he said.
The country, President Mnangagwa said, continued to make strides in various spheres of agriculture such as research, seed production, cropping and livestock, farm mechanisation and engineering, veterinary services and agro-processing among others.