By Bulawayo Correspondent
LANDS and Agriculture Minister Perence Shiri has criticised Zimbabwe’s food security policies saying they failed to attract investment within the sector.
Agriculture is the mainstay of the country’s economy contributing 15, 5% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Speaking at the ministry’s strategic planning workshop in Bulawayo Wednesday, Shiri implored the government to ensure that agricultural policies attracted investment in the sector.
“Ladies and gentlemen attaining our objectives lies in how as government departments and parastatals steer public policy and strategies to set up the much-needed conducive environment which enables all players to participate to their potential.
“Our food security policies have fallen short of attracting investments in the sector and ensuring economic growth.
“Governments the world over use polices to influence agriculture production, marketing and trade. This is usually done to achieve specific outcomes relating to the central role of agriculture,” said the minister.
Shiri admitted government’s controversial land reform programme affected agricultural policies in the country.
“In this regard, there is therefore a compelling need for agriculture policies to attract investment in the sector given the changes that have been brought by the agrarian reforms that remarkably altered the production systems, markets and labour relations,” said the minister.
Shiri also challenged parastatals under his ministry’s purview to turn around their performance and contribute towards ensuring food security.
He added, “There are 11 parastatals under this ministry and these have independent boards which report directly to me. Parastatals used to contribute 40 percent of the country’s GDP and this needs to be resuscitated.”
Zimbabwe, once regarded as the breadbasket of the region, has seen its fortunes within the once lucrative sector tumble to a point where the country now has to rely on maize imports to feed a starving populations.
Government attempts to stimulate production through its Command Agriculture programme have turned disastrous as some corrupt individuals linked to the ruling Zanu PF party have looted the funds through opaque deals with authorities.