Vice- President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Dickson Mangena, Business Reporter
THE Government has set sights at including wheat and soya beans under its Command Agriculture Programme as it bids to improve production of the country’s strategic crops.
Addressing grain millers and the business community in Bulawayo on Thursday last week, Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the revival of the agricultural sector was going to catapult the recovery of the entire spectrum of the economy thus the reason the Government was channeling most of its funding into it.
“We believe that once the agriculture sector takes off, it will affect the entire economic spectrum of the country then beneficiation, value addition will come, employment will be created and downstream industry will be created,” said Acting President Mnangagwa.
He said in an effort to increase the production of wheat and soya beans Government would consider including the two crops under the Command Agriculture Programme. The Government and private players have over the years been importing wheat and soya beans to cover for the deficit in the country.
Last year, Government launched the $500 million Command Agriculture Programme, under which Government is targeting to produce two million tonnes of maize on 400 000 hectares of land.
“We are now extending the same concept (Command Agriculture Programme) to soya beans, so that in three or four seasons we have adequate soya beans . . . so soya beans and wheat will come under Command Agriculture as we go on. The financing will be coming from our own people, our own companies and banks. The only issue is that some are expensive and some are reasonable so we will select from that menu of offers,” said Acting President Mnangagwa.
He said production of crops such as tobacco and cotton has been a success, largely owing to their well orchestrated funding models.
“We also have tobacco which has succeeded in the same model. Cotton as well. However, on cotton we have a three-year programme where we give free inputs and this year uptake for cotton is three times and we are going to have a huge harvest in cotton,” said Acting President Mnangagwa.