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Era of telephone farming over: ED

Sindiso Mhlophe
SENIOR STAFF WRITER
mhlophes@dailynews.co.zw

THE government is pushing the agriculture sector to approach farming as a business, and not as a “weekend and telephone” hobby, the Daily News reports.

This comes as the country is grappling with food insecurity owing to poor planning and successive years of droughts caused by the effects of climate change. 
President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Officially opening the Annual National Agri-business Conference in Harare yesterday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said agriculture was the nerve centre of the country’s economy, contributing between 15 and 18 percent of Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product (GDP).
He said the government had launched various programmes aimed at increasing agricultural production — including the Presidential Input Support Programme, transforming Agribank into a land bank for all farmers and the Presidential Livestock Inputs Programme.
“This action-oriented strategy provides the compass to the agriculture sector to fully exploit the inherent and God-given natural resources of land and water, as well as our hardworking human capital.
“In this regard, we have set out result-oriented interventions for implementation by farmers.
“These include the rebranded climate proofed Presidential Input Support Programme, which has seen the introduction of the Pfumvudza-Conservation Agriculture Programme, leveraging on our heritage-based knowledge systems and practices,” Mnangagwa said.
“In all these programmes, it is important that no one is left behind — especially women, youth, veterans of our liberation struggle and people with disabilities.
“To this end, and in our quest to further promote gender sensitive, inclusive and broad-based economic empowerment, the small livestock component of the recovery plan has seen goat breeding and improvement centres being established in various communities,” he added.
He called on farmers to undertake agriculture activities with focus and rigour to ensure that the 2020-2021 agricultural season is a resounding success.
“I exhort the sector to speedily adopt the use of smart technologies and innovation to improve our agriculture productivity towards a prosperous, diverse, sustainable and competitive agriculture sector by 2030.
“I doing so, let us strive to achieve the intricate balance between new technologies and our existing indigenous knowledge systems.
“I equally urge us to robustly harness the hardworking ethic culture of our people through entrenching positive competition, culminating in shows, exhibitions and expos as a way of promoting exchange of farming practices, experiences and product development and value addition. The era of weekend and telephone farming has come to an end,” Mnangagwa said.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also responsible for the agriculture cluster in government, said the country was attempting to remodel the agriculture sector to suit the changing climatic conditions.
“The agriculture sector being the backbone of the economy has been experiencing severe challenges, mainly caused by climate change, pausing a threat to the food security situation in the country and beyond.
“This is becoming more evident as the country is experiencing extreme weather conditions such as recurrent droughts, heat waves and erratic rainfall patterns which manifest as false starts to the rainfall season, mid-season dry spells and terminal droughts,” he said.
Speaking at the same event, newly-appointed Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka said for the desired US$8,2 billion agriculture economy to be achieved by 2025, there was a need to approach farming as a business.
“The government is keen to see a well-coordinated and well-functioning competitive, productive and yet profitable agricultural sector. To do this, farming must be approached from a business perspective. Farming is indeed a business.
“This requires the co-operation and co-ordination of all actors to ensure the efficient flow of investment into the agricultural sector,” he said.

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