Private sector increases agriculture financing

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr John Bhasera takes pictures of cattle during the tour of Mary Ellen farm in Bubi district yesterday.

THE private sector has increased funding to the agriculture sector and is contributing towards the reduction of grain imports as the country targets another bumper wheat harvest, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Dr John Basera said yesterday.

Zimbabwe is targeting to produce between 420 000 to 430 000 tonnes of wheat after 90 000 hectares were planted during the winter wheat cropping season.

The country is targeting a wheat surplus for the second year running after achieving 375 000 tonnes of wheat last year against a national demand of 360 000 tonnes.

Speaking after a tour of Mary Ellen Farm in Bubi, Matabeleland North yesterday, Dr Basera said a multi-stakeholder approach is critical for the country to achieve success in the agriculture sector.

He said Government is impressed with the private sector investment in the agriculture sector. 

“What is encouraging is that the private sector has come on board to support Government efforts to enhance food security and substitute imports. 

This year we have the Food Contractors Association Consortium coming on board and placing about 25 000 hectares under wheat,” said Dr Basera.

He said 120 tonnes of wheat is coming from the private sector which include millers and the stakeholders.

“Banks have also come on board to support Government on its programme of import substitution. We have a programme whereby CBZ, AFC and other banks have funded 20 000ha of wheat this year,” said Dr Basera.

He said smallholder farmers we also being assisted to ensure the country is wheat-sufficient.

 Dr Basera said the participation of smallholder farmers will contribute to rural industrialisation. 

 “We have those farmers who are the beneficiaries of the irrigation schemes, they are also on board and are part of this success story. They contributed about 20 000ha this year which is quite incredible. It will impact positively on the  growth of the rural economy because 62 percent of our population resides in the rural areas,” he said.

Dr Basera said what is pleasing is that all provinces are contributing to the country’s programme to boost wheat production.

“We are really impressed by what Mary Ellen Farm and surrounding irrigation schemes in Matabeleland North are doing. This year we achieved 90 000 hectares of wheat crop and we are projecting to harvest about 420 000 to 430 000 tonnes against a national requirement of 360 000 tonnes,” he said.

Dr Basera commended Mary Ellen Farm for growing different types of crops and is also into livestock farming thereby proving that farming is indeed a business.

The farm which employees over 200 people, grows wheat, maize as well as seed maize and is also into livestock farming.

They are also involved in stock feed production thereby reducing the cost of stockfeed. 

Dr Basera was also charmed by the use of modern technologies in the production processes at the farm and urged other farmers to also embrace new technologies to improve production.

“We have to adopt modern technologies to enhance production efficiencies. 

“Here there is precision agriculture, Geographic Information System (GIS) and other such modern ways of production,” he said.


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