'Farmers need more support'

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Agricultural Society (Zas) has called for more support for farmers after it found that the contemporary support system for agriculture fails in comparison to the system that was in place half a century ago.

On Wednesday, Zas hosted a dialogue on: “The role of tertiary institutions in enhancing agricultural productivity in the post land reform era.”

Speaking at the event, Zas chief executive officer Anxious Masuka said the society has noticed that the emerging black farming community has not received the level of support that white farmers received in the 1940s.

“We analysed and contextualised how whites were assisted in the 1940s to become farmers, literally at all costs. We juxtaposed (compared) this with the support given to black farmers since 1980, and more importantly since the land reform programme. It became clear that a few things need to be put right,” said Masuka.

He added that the prevailing situation has been brought about by the inadequate financial support for the farmer and a deficient marketing system, among other factors.

“We have a stagnant and perhaps outdated farmer capacitation system, an unsound farmer financial support system and disjoined markets and uncoordinated marketing systems,” Masuka said.

Masuka pointed out the need for more focus on farmer capacitation. He said there is a need for entrepreneurship training within the farming community. He also pointed out the need for best management practices adding that this has become more needful since the land reform programme.

“There is clearly a need for a farmer centric approach to decision making impacting on the need for business development through entrepreneurship training because farming is a business, and the urgent need for the best management practices for a changed farming environment, especially since the land reform era,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s agricultural productivity took a serious knock in the wake of the 2000 fast track land reform which was marred by violence and lawlessness.

The sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product fell from more than 20 percent, in the late 90s, to less than 12 percent in 2016.

The dialogue which was hosted at the Exhibition Park in Harare, was attended by representatives from the farming community, agro industry corporates, tertiary institutions and government, including the minister of Tertiary Education Amon Murwira.

— The Financial Gazette

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