Republic of Zimbabwe Vice-President Joice Mujuru of the ZANU-PF party. Mujuru recently paid tribute to the nations of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for their ongoing support for the country., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Be organised, Mujuru urges farmers
Friday, 18 March 2011 23:41
The challenges farmers are facing can be solved through a shared vision, purpose, hard work and commitment by Government's support through agricultural schemes.
Most farmers have benefited from Government's mechanisation programme and the recently launched input scheme rolled out through the Grain Marketing Board.
Vice President Joice Mujuru made the remarks in a speech read on her behalf at the Union Project Negomo Field day in Chiweshe by Mashonaland Central Governor and Resident Minister Martin Dinha yesterday.
VP Mujuru said the challenges included lack of funding, inadequate supply of production inputs and limited farming infrastructure.
"This field day comes at a time when the Government is aiming to accelerate economic growth and eliminate poverty and malnutrition among its people through agriculture.
"We have always recognised the need for farmers to be organised themselves through their unions to implement agricultural and rural development programmes.
"Farmers unions are important in that they lobby for favourable producer prices, search for cheap inputs and equipment, advise Government on behalf of members, provide technical advice, training needs, organise research and provide solutions to issues affecting their members," she said.
VP Mujuru acknowledged Union Project's efforts improving Zimbabwe's smallholder agriculture through various interventions. This, she said, has seen farmers getting training to adopt viable farming methods that included conservation agriculture, capacity building and additional extension services.
"CA is directly supporting smallholder and communal farmers, enabling them to increase productivity and become better integrated into the markets," VP Mujuru said.
UP's objectives included providing inputs, market linkages, capacity building and extension support involving all stakeholders such as farmers unions, Agritex, private sector and non-governmental organisations for maximum impact and sustainability of the support.
The private sector supports the farmers with inputs while UP provides extension to the farmers through resident field extension officers with technical support from geographical consultants.
"I am told that UP conservation agriculture has proven to be very popular with farmers because it reduces costs of production while improving yields.
"The technology is also appropriate where there are shortages of draught power, inputs and rainfall.
"The concept of CA has come at a time when we are affected by serious recurring droughts. The global climatic change affecting Southern Africa should be seen as a real threat that needs to be managed holistically.".
She commended other farmers who are not in UP but are adopting conservation practices saying the option was viable especially in most communal areas with draught power challenges. UP is so far in 12 districts of the country and has 21 sites in these districts with a total of 3 600 beneficiaries for the 2010/11 agricultural season.
The districts include Murehwa, Mt Darwin, Chiweshe, Guruve, Mutasa, Gokwe, Nyanga, Rusape, Hurungwe, Masvingo and Goromonzi.
The European Union and FAO with the support of the Government are supporting the improvement of food security and the commercialisation of communal agriculture through co-operation with the farmers unions- ZCFU, CFU and ZFU and their joint technical board UP.
Agriculture contributes between 14 and 18 percent to the Gross Domestic Product and accounts for more than 40 percent of national exports, 60 percent raw materials to agro-industries and provides livelihood to over 70 percent of the population.