Summer cropping season preps should start now – Mukwende

BY Edward Mukaro
FOR Zimbabwe to be food secure, a cocktail of measures to counter the effects of the deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19), coupled by repairing critical infrastructure including electricity power lines and equipment that have been vandalized, is essential to revive the breadbasket status of the country again, according to renowned agriculture economist, Mr. Berean Mukwende.
Speaking in an interview with The BusinessConnect, Mukwende said it ay be too late to achieve a fruitful winter cropping season, but however, hinted that it would be vital for Government and stakeholders to commence preparations for the 2020/21 summer cropping season now, as it would go a long way in making sure that the nations becomes food secure.
“The sector (agriculture) is in need (stimulus package). The virus has affected, especially on markets, such as, horticulture, poultry, livestock, almost everything.
“So preparations for summer should start earlier, like now,” he said.
The economist, however added that it would also be beneficial for national power authority, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply authority (ZESA) to offer farmers lower rates for service, while also making sure that vandalized equipment, like damaged transformers, are repaired before the summer cropping season commences. He also added that for the preparations to be fully beneficial and creating an ideal for farmers, it was essential for authorities to make a provision for water development.
“Reduce electricity rates for the farming sector and install transformers (where there are damaged ones), while also making provisions for water development for the 2020/21 summer cropping season.
“A lot of farmers have equipment, but do not have money to install transformers,” added Mukwende.
Commenting on the government’s stimulus package for businesses to minimize Covid-19 effects, Mukwende stated that the agriculture sector is huge and diverse, therefore the need for its own budget given the incessant droughts that have been witnessed over the years.
Government announced a stimulus package of Z$18 Billion (US$360 million using market rates), on May 1, 2020.
According to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), about 7.7m Zimbabweans, both in urban and rural areas are in need of urgent food aid, as most people are failing to put food on their tables for their families, as a result of a failing economy, which has been further battered by the Covid-19 bug.
According to the UN, agriculture is the backbone of the Zimbabwean economy, contributing to 15 – 20% of GDP. Over the past decade, there has been increased food and nutrition insecurity at the household and national levels, emanating from reduced productivity and production of the main crops.
Moreover, the country still lacks a comprehensive agriculture policy framework
About 15-20% of Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product {GDP} comes from agriculture
. Over the past decade there has been increased food and nutrition insecurity at the household and national levels, emanating from reduced productivity and production of the main crops. Moreover, the country still lacks a comprehensive agriculture policy framework.
A policy will contribute to progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, specifically MDG 1: The eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.

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