Zimbabwe spends US$800m annually on grain imports

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ZIMBABWE is spending US$800 million annually on grain imports, deputy Agriculture minister Vangelis Haritatos has said.

Speaking in the Senate recently, Haritatos said the country adopted the Pfumvudza programme as a measure to address the problems of low productivity.

“Because of the low productivity and low production, the country has become a perennial net importer of cereal grains amounting to US$800 million annually.

“This increases pressure on the fiscus to source foreign currency for grain importation, which could be channelled to other productive sectors of the economy, if we produced sufficient amounts for our country. The Pfumvudza concept is an attempt to reverse this insalubrious state of affairs.

“The low productivity has been caused by a number of factors, among them poor agronomic practices, poor soils, the impact of climate change and failure to approach agriculture from a business perspective by both farmers and our extension system.

“Climate change impacts are characterised by poor rainfall seasons, prolonged mid-season dry spells, very high temperatures during the growing season and the early cessation of the rains. Thus, the adoption of the Pfumvudza concept, which is based on conservation agriculture principles, will help climate-proof agricultural production, and in particular the food production sub-sector,” he said.

This comes after various stakeholders in the agricultural sector have said Zimbabwe is in urgent need of sound policies, substantial and timely financial and input support for farmers in order to achieve food security and import substitution.

Permanent secretary in the Agriculture ministry John Basera said the government had already laid the foundation through the launch of the US$8,2 agricultural economy by 2025.

“The need for timely and accurate information to support farmers has become imperative in the government’s efforts to transform agriculture and food systems. We are working towards remodelling Agribank and this is a precursor which shows that we are committed to supporting agriculture.

“Agriculture occupies a central place in the Zimbabwean economy, contributing between eight and 15 percent of gross domestic product. In addition, it contributes over 40 percent of our export earnings and about 60 percent of raw materials to agro-industries.

“About 70 percent of Zimbabwe’s population derives its livelihoods from the agricultural sector,” Basera said.

He added that there was a need for collaboration between the government and private players to improve agricultural production, cut imports and stimulate productivity through providing raw materials for industry.

“The bulk of our industries depend on agriculture for inputs. For them to produce at full capacity, they must access cheaper, locally produced raw materials, which ultimately has a bearing on the price of goods.

“Our strategy as a government is to pursue import substitution. We are therefore compelled to play our part in helping the government to preserve foreign currency, which can then be deployed to other critical areas,” Basera said.Zim spends US$800m

annually on grain imports

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