Zimbabwe is now food secure after achieving bumper maize and wheat harvests in the last few cropping seasons, but the Government remains determined to transform agricultural systems for the sector to contribute positively towards Vision 2030 of an upper middle income society, Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Dr John Basera said.
Speaking during the Long Service Awards ceremony at SeedCo’s Mt Hampden offices just outside Harare, Dr Basera said food security will only be achieved through efficiently producing enough food crops.
Dr Basera applauded farmers for working hard last year to achieve a milestone in wheat production, after attaining a record-breaking 375 000 tonnes of wheat and 1,5 million tonnes of maize last season.
Zimbabwe requires 360 000 tonnes of wheat per annum, and the huge harvest, which is the biggest since 1966, means there will be no shortages of bread and other confectionery.
“Yes we are food secure because in the recent past, I have seen applications for permits to import seed, that is maize seed and traditional grains,” said Dr Basera.
“We started to operationalise the Agriculture Recovery Growth Plan and we managed to score 2,7 million tonnes of maize during the 2020-2021 cropping season. So, generally we are food secure and l know SeedCo contributed almost 90 percent and this was a big score.
“We recorded 375 000 tonnes of wheat (last season) and for the first time since 1966, we are flour self-sufficient and that’s incredible.”
The Government has initiated public-private sector engagements to ensure its projections of a harvest of about 3 million tonnes of maize from the present season, are realised.
The huge maize output would be coming from a targeted hectarage of 1 940 969ha, representing a 3 percent rise from 1,9 million hectares planted last year.
Soyabean growing rose from 52 000ha to 56 000ha, a move that will also ensure Zimbabwe has reasonable quantities of raw materials for the production of cooking oil, thereby reducing the import bill.
Tobacco production surged by 19 percent from 110 000 hectares to about 181 000ha this year.
The Second Republic has put in place measures to ensure food sufficiency through various agricultural transformation programmes.
After attaining food self-sufficiency, Zimbabwe is now pushing to have a bigger share on the export market.
Dr Basera said from the crops and livestock assessment they conducted, there are indications that the sectors are growing.
In the next summer cropping season, the Government is targeting a cereal production of 3,7 million tonnes to ensure national food and nutrition security.
The target areas for the major crops have only been increased by 10 percent since the major thrust of the ministry is to increase production per unit area, rather than drastically expand the cultivated area.
The agriculture sector has already hit the initial 2025 target of becoming an US$8,2 billion industry. This target was achieved in 2021, as the industry grew by 36,2 percent.
Dr Basera applauded SeedCo for honouring its 25 workers who have served between 10 and 40 years, saying the gesture demonstrates commitment towards the welfare of workers.
“Recognising employees is a paramount gesture which assures growth. If you empower and capacitate your people, you will have half of your work done, hence commitment and consistency is needed in the organisation,” he said.
Seed Co managing director Mr Terrence Chimanya said it was crucial to honour workers who have played a pivotal role in transforming and upgrading the organisation’s standards.
“As a career milestone, we feel it is important that we honour these men and women for the part they played in maintaining and performing standards and commitment to the company,” he said.
Workers who served for 10 years were given a water tank and a pump, one month’s salary, a grocery hamper and 40kg seed, while those that have served for 15 years received gas stoves and a water tank, one month’s salary, a grocery hamper and 60kg maize seed.
Those who served for 20 years received a solar geyser, one month’s salary, 80kg seed and a grocery hamper, while those that have worked for 25 years received 3kVA solar system, one month’s salary and a grocery hamper and 100kg maize seed.
For serving the company for 35 to 40 years, workers received a grinding mill, 140kg maize seed, a grocery hamper and one month’s salary and a solar system.
Mr Bornface Nyarugwe, the longest serving member with 40 years, thanked SeedCo for recognising their efforts.
He said the gesture will motivate other workers to commit themselves to work hard, doing the right thing, for the company to grow.
“Doing the right thing is needed in the company. I was employed in 1982 but now I’m still in the company. I started working in the fields, weeding there but l was elevated to a tractor driver, which is still my job today,” he said.