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