(Last Updated on September 6, 2013 by Editor)
Farmer groupings yesterday hailed President Mugabe for pledging to fund and mechanise the agriculture sector to boost food production in the country.Farmers said President Mugabe’s pledge at the just ended Harare Agricultural Show demonstrated his political will and commitment to revamp and transform the agriculture sector to enhance food security.
“The resounding victory of President Mugabe in this year’s election and his promise to fund and mechanise the agriculture sector demonstrates his commitment and desire to ensure that the country becomes self-sufficient in terms of food production,” said Zimbabwe
Farmers Union (ZFU) vice president Berean Mukwende. Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said the President’s pledge would help assure farmers of government support and spur production.
“His message has boosted farmers’ confidence and with adequate support from Government we hope that farmers will be able improve food security in the country,” he said.
Officially opening the 103rd edition of the Harare Agricultural Show, President Mugabe expressed his commitment to fund and mechanise the agriculture sector.
“Mechanisation is critical for increased production and productivity. To this end, the Government will secure funding facilities and continue to pursue appropriate mechanisation programmes that will address the needs of the farming community,” the President said.
Predictions by climate experts, who met recently for their annual Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF), that the country will receive normal to above normal rainfall for the 2013/14 farming season have raised optimism among farmers.
“Communal and commercial farmers are now busy preparing for the next season and expectations are high that they will have a bumper harvest if they get adequate funding and inputs on time,” Mr Chabikwa said.
“A favourable rainfall outlook for the coming cropping seasons has also brought so much hope among farmers.”
Commercial Farmers Union vice president Mr Peter Steyl said most farmers were likely to ramp up their production level given a bright rainfall outlook for the coming cropping season.
“With the next planting season for the 2013/14 just around the corner, I am confident that farmers will be able to return the country to its breadbasket of the region status as prospects for a good rainfall season are favourable,” he said.
“We are expecting a bumper harvest next year as we are targeting to increase maize production by a huge margin.”
Drought, late disbursement of funds and inputs and lack of credit lines were some of the major challenges facing farmers in the country.
Poor market prices for some crops, high cost of transport, labour and fuel as well as shortages of spares have also added to the woes.
Despite the challenges, most farmers remain optimistic that production levels will improve in the coming cropping season.