ARDA commends command agric

HARARE  -  The Agriculture and Rural Development  Authority (ARDA) on Tuesday commended the Government for introducing the  specialised maize production program, Command agriculture, saying it  goes a long way in addressing food shortages in the country.

Appearing before the Senate Thematic committee on United Nations  Sustainable Development Goals, ARDA chairman Basil Nyabadza said  expectations were high that this year, the country would have surplus  grain.

“We are very pleased that the Executive introduced Command agriculture  which we have done for the first seven or eight months and we believe  there will be tangible deliverables in terms of grain availability  within our nation for a very long time,” he said.

Last October we were talking about logistics of how to import maize  from Zambia and Mexico, this year, six months later, we are talking  about logistics of storage of grain,” he said.

Mr Nyabadza added: “Indeed the raw material base of our industry is  enhanced. Certainly that was not the case 12 months ago.”

Under Command agriculture, the government provided inputs such as seed  and fertilizer, irrigation and mechanized equipment mainly to  smallholder farmers.

At least 168 666 hectares of land was planted under the program, far  short of the 400 000 target as a result of logistical challenges in  distribution of the inputs and incessant rains.

As a result, the country expects 2 million tons of maize in the 2016/17  season which is more than enough to meet national demand.

Zimbabwe has in previous seasons failed to produce enough of the staple  maize crop due to a cocktail of reasons, made worse in the 2015/16  farming season by an El Nino induced drought that left over four million  people in need of food aid.

Once touted as the region’s bread basket, the country has been forced  to import maize to supplement local production. - New Ziana

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