zim new farmer.jpgThe saying ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’ can be exemplified by Zimbabwe’s new farmers who started on a slow note but have increased production, as witnessed by the upsurge in tobacco and maize output in the 2010 marketing season.

 

Stakeholders and analysts agree that with enough support from government and the private sector, new farmers could soon recapture Zimbabwe’s breadbasket status.

 

In the following report, ZBC News reporter, Tafara Chikumira analyses the rocky journey travelled by Zimbabwe’s new farmers.

 

Indeed, just like the biblical journey of the Israelites from the bondage of King Pharaoh to the Promised Land, the journey by Zimbabwe’s indigenous people to reclaim their land has not been an easy stroll in the park.

 

The indigenous farmers’ trip had its impassable rivers and wars in the form of the illegal sanctions imposed by the West. The sanctions induced some political and economic instability that saw Zimbabwe reduced from being a shining bacon of Africa to a basket case.

 

farming in zimbabwe.jpgHowever, in a sign of sterling resilience, Zimbabwean indigenous farmers are fast defying the odds and have increased the 2009-2010 maize and tobacco yields by over a 100% mark.

 

In the 2009-2010 farming season, a report by the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that the country recorded maize harvest of 1,3 million tones, translating to over 130% increase compared to the 2008-2009 season which produced an estimated 500 000 tonnes.

 

The same positive development has been recorded on the country’s tobacco, dubbed the ‘golden leaf’ which recorded sales volumes estimated at over 118 million kilogrammes during the 2009-2010 farming season – more than double the 2008-2009’s 58 million kilogrammes output.

 

Zimbabwe Farmers Union Executive Director, Mr Paul Zakariya says the improvement in output production is a sign that indigenous

farmers are beginning to take farming seriously.

 

president maize bag.jpg“Farmers seem to have come to their senses that farming is a business. There is also the aspect of experience that has come in handy in assisting in the improvement of agricultural output,” he said.

 

The farmers concurred with Mr. Zachariya’s sentiments, with some saying they have since left their jobs to concentrate on farming at a full-time basis, albeit concerns over the marketing aspect.

 

The concerns by farmers brings into question the effectiveness of the government’s recently revived Agriculture Marketing Authority that was re-launched in February this year to ensure fairness in the marketing of agricultural products.
 
bags of fertilisers 2 -04-08-10.jpgGoing forward, an Agricultural expert, Mr. Brean Mukwende said the government and other stakeholders should provide a conducive environment to make sure that farmers get the farming inputs at affordable rates on time if the agricultural sector is to be fully revived.

 

“Farmers shall be given farming inputs on time. The banks shall also avail loans to farmers with less stringent collateral agreements.

 

 

 

farm mechanisation.jpgWith the proper environment, Zimbabwe could soon reclaim its status as the agricultural hub of the region,” he said.

 

The success of the agricultural revolution in the country has been spurred by the recently held agricultural experts meeting in Windhoek which projected that by 2030 Africa’s annual agricultural output will hit US$880 billion from the current US$220 billion.