Shiri admits agriculture failure

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Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri has admitted his ministry’s shortcomings in delivering its key mandates which include ensuring food and nutrition security as well as foreign currency generation.
Shiri made the remarks at a time when more than half of the country’s population is food insecure and reeling from the El Nino-induced drought.
Speaking at the official opening of the ongoing strategic planning workshop yesterday, Shiri also warned parastatals that fall under his purview, to turn around their performance and stop draining the fiscus.
Adding that the agriculture sector has potential to contribute between 16 to 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 40 percent to exports, and feed the country while providing the source of livelihood for 67 percent of the country’s populace that resides in rural areas but was failing to do so.
“It pains me to realise that this potential remains to be exploited and that as a ministry we are falling short of delivering on our national mandate which has five key result areas which are… food and nutrition security, foreign currency generation, employment creation, value addition and beneficiation and coordination of the agricultural sector,” Shiri said.
He, however, noted that his ministry is endowed with technical capacity and has potential to apply this to deliver its mandate. He called for programmes into food and nutrition security for Zimbabweans.
He also challenged parastatals to turn around their performance and contribute towards ensuring food security.
“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.
“Some parastatals are only able to pay their staff salaries and contribute nothing to the fiscus. Going forward, this will not be allowed,” he warned.
Most parastatals have been operating at a loss owing to poor management, corruption and weak governance systems which have seen them contributing two percent to the economy.
Last year, the government earmarked some parastatals for privatisation.

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