Govt scrambles to increase maize production
SMARTING from the nation’s more than a decade of failure to feed itself, the Zimbabwe government, through the Cabinet Committee on Food Security and Nutrition is now hoping to produce two million tonnes of maize on 400 000 hectares, of which 200 000 hectares would be on irrigated land.
Despite its much flaunted land reform programme that is said to have benefitted thousands of landless farmers, Zimbabwe has barely managed to produce half of its maize requirements forcing it to perennially import the staple food.
During a press conference on government’s plans on disaster risk reduction measures for the 2016/17 farming season last week, chairman of the Cabinet Committee, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, said the programme aims to produce maize locally and reduce imports.
“In recent years, government has noted a steady decline in national maize grain production, when the nation harvested 2,64 million tonnes in the 1996/97 season, with production steadily declining to a mere 742 225 tonnes in 2014/2015. Production is expected to be even lower for the 2015/2016 season,” Mnangagwa said.
While this programme will target and provide support for the 400 000 hectares on a cost recovery basis, the other government programmes such as the Presidential Inputs Scheme, would still continue despite having evidently failed to produce any returns.
“The farmers participating in this programme should sign a performance contract for three consecutive summer growing seasons commencing with the 2016/17 summer season. All farms near water bodies shall be considered under this programme,” he said.
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