THE country needs at least 2 000 farmers each utilising 200 hectares of land to achieve food sufficiency and bid farewell to the importation of grain, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa said.
Addressing delegates at a Buy Local Summit in Mutare last week, Mnangagwa outlined the Government’s plans to ensure adequate farming of grain in the country through capacitating farmers with various support schemes that include inputs, equipment and extensional services.
“Zimbabwe has the largest water bodies in the Sadc region and we have come up with a policy that where there is a water body, people around it must be empowered by giving them implements to grow grain. These are not handouts,” said Mnangagwa.
Explaining the 2 000 farmers scheme, Mnangagwa said each farmer would be expected to produce a minimum of five tonnes per hectare producing a minimum total of two million tonnes of grain against national annual consumption of 1,4 million tonnes.
He said for every yield, the Government would take five tonnes as repayment for the inputs that include seed, fertiliser and machinery while the surplus would belong to the farmer.
“In four seasons, Zimbabwe should bid farewell to the importation of grain through this scheme and we will not only achieve food sufficiency but offer a decent return to the farmers,” he said.
The other categories mentioned by Mnangagwa included empowering farmers through irrigation by resuscitating all schemes around the country and creating new irrigation schemes where there is water and the revival of the Agriculture Rural Development Authority (Arda) estates in all the provinces.
He said the Government was assisting in identifying private partners for the irrigation schemes which had been defunct.
“Communal farmers will also continue to receive the Government inputs to assist in the production of grain. The Brazil scheme has seen us rolling out machinery to different parts of the country to assist in the production. With all these measures in place, Zimbabwe should be able to achieve food suffiency,” said Mnangagwa.
The country is importing grain from a number of countries including Zambia.
The country needs slightly over 1,3 million tonnes of maize until the end of the year.
The target for the Importation Programme February to December 2016 is 1 361 452 tonnes valued at $560 918 224 and to date, 526 802 tonnes have been imported.
Contracts for maize importation for 630 000 tonnes were signed between the Grain Marketing Board and private players.
Of these contracts, a total of 129 000 tonnes of grain have been delivered.
According to the Government, from January to March next year, the country will require 450 000 tonnes valued at an estimated cost of $185 292 000.