In the medium to long term, it will be essential and critical that the country guarantees food security and self reliance. In this regard, it is essential that we address the land issue consistent with the Global Political Agreement, which provides for a comprehensive transparent and non partisan land audit for the purposes of establishing accountability, gender equity and eliminating multiple farm ownerships as well as ensuring the restoration of full productivity on all agricultural land in the interest of all Zimbabwe people. Long term
sustainable viability of agriculture can only arise if there is security of tenure through among other instruments, lease hold title, land permits and private financing of agriculture as recognised in the GPA.
Furthermore, establishing a credible security of tenure policy will be essential for building confidence and allowing investment on the land as well as facilitating agricultural financing.
The new Inclusive Government will, therefore, be dealing with the above issues pertaining to land and property rights, security of tenure as well as enhancing financing and productivity in agriculture.
A key component of our Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme will therefore priorities support for agricultural production during the 2009 winter wheat season as well as the 2009/10 summer cropping season. This will be premised on intensive agriculture, where emphasis is on maximising output
as opposed to extensive agriculture.
Interventions under the Programme in agriculture will also take advantage of the measures announced in the 2009 Budget, the Monetary Policy Statement as well as lessons learnt from the experiences from the 2008/09 summer cropping season.
Preparations for the 2009/10 Season
Measures to enhance food security at the household and national level will require that The Inclusive Government embarks early on strategies to ensure that preparations for both the 2009 winter wheat and the 2009/10 Summer Cropping Season are undertaken timeously.
These preparations should benefit from the institution of nterventions, characterised by late mobilisation of the necessary material, human, foreign and local currency requirements to support cropping.
The Inclusive Government's effort to boost the country's state of preparedness for the cropping season should also include the mobilisation of the necessary resources in support of tillage, provision of such inputs as fertilizer, seed, chemicals, machinery and material resources.
The support to be rendered by The Inclusive Government to the farmer is meant to complement, and not to substitute, individual farmer initiatives.
With regard to the 2009 winter wheat crop, an output of 100 000 tons is targeted. To achieve this target provision of adequate agricultural inputs, payment of all outstanding wheat balances and clustering of wheat growing areas are critical success factors.
The relevant arms of Government, together with those in the private sector, will be required to communicate their respective support in liaison with farmer associations.
Maize production will benefit from farmers using their own resources, traditional contract farming as well as communal farmers. Under the 2009/10 production programme, the country ought to produce more than 80% of its maize requirements.
The above targeted output will be financed through a combination of traditional contract farming facilities, private financing through own resources and loans from the financial sector.
It will be the duty of the Inclusive Government to ensure the availability of all inputs through the open market. In addition all private sector initiatives in agriculture input support programmes will be a priority. This includes the revival of market mechanisms in such key agricultural related industries as in fertilizers.
Measures will also be taken to capacitate DDF and AGRITEX to enable them to provide improved service and monitoring of farming activities.
Crop Input Packs
The Inclusive Government will endeavor to mobilise resources in support of disadvantaged rural farmers. This will be complemented by crop input pack support from cooperating partners, including NGOs.
Initial estimates indicated that some 800 000 households will require crop input packs, with the targeted support level to the individual farmer comprising of 10 kg of maize/small grains seed packs, 50 kgs of Compound D and 50 kgs of Ammonium Nitrate(AN) fertilizers.
The participation of cooperating partners in supporting the Crop Input Pack Scheme for vulnerable farmers will be critical and inevitable given the limited resources of the Inclusive Government.
It should be emphasised that after STERP, the State will move away from a regime of dependency and handouts in a bid to ensure the independence and strength of all farm actors.
Tobacco & Other Strategic Crops
In addition, resources to support tobacco, cotton, horticulture and production of other strategic crops for the 2009/10 summer season will also be from the market, including contract farming.
Integrated Agricultural Recovery
Beyond the Immediate Measures in support of the coming cropping season, agriculture needs to reassume its role as a major engine of economic and social development.
In this regard, measures to restore and enhance the productivity of our agriculture will be necessary to ensure the sector's self-sufficiency, and to include greater contribution towards export and fiscal revenues.
Central to the integrated recovery of agriculture will be the issue of the viability of farming as a business activity, followed by interventions to deal with the effective utilisation of the land, as well as measures to enhance the capacity of the farmer.
This will have to be complemented by clarity of land rights, as well as the strengthening of all the critical arteries and enablers in the agriculture production value chain, including the revival of Hwange Colliery coal supply, restoration of ZESA power supply, rehabilitation and expansion of irrigation infrastructure and National Railways freight services.
In order to guarantee the success of agriculture, The Inclusive Government consistent with the Global Political Agreement, will conduct a comprehensive transparent and non partisan land audit for the purpose of establishing accountability, eliminating inefficiency and multiple farm ownership.
This is also meant to ensure equitable land distribution as well as ensuring security of tenure to all land beneficiaries.
Security on Farms
In order to promote confidence, investments and other developments on farms, as well as ensuring security of farming operations, The Inclusive Government will uphold the rule of law as well as enforce law and order on farms including arresting any further farm invasions which disrupt farming activities.
Strategies to capacitate the farmer involve such issues as access to agriculture finance and inputs, enhancing skills through training and extension support.
Viability of Farming
Measures to guarantee the profitability and viability of farming also centre around deregulation of the marketing and pricing of commodities and allowing farmers to sell freely their commodities in the open market and market determined prices.
The practice of announcing pre and post planting producer prices is therefore abolished.
Pursuant to this policy of deregulation has been the removal of the GMB monopoly as a grain purchaser. The GMB will, however, remain the purchaser of last resort.
Financing of Agriculture
While in the past Government has been playing a large role in the funding of agriculture, both directly from the Budget as well as from Reserve Bank facilities, current resource constraints demand that other players particularly the private sector become more involved in supporting agriculture.
Financing of agriculture, should ordinarily be the responsibility of our banking system, drawing from the deposits by the general public.
Hence, measures to restore and enhance the level of participation by our banks and other financial institutions in lending to our farmers will be initiated. This will be both in terms of provision of short term as well as medium term agricultural finance.
Short term finance facilities will essentially avail 90 - 180 day working capital for purchase of inputs and other requirements.
The participation of banks in agricultural finance will be strengthened by the liberalisation of agricultural pricing and marketing arrangements alluded to above.
Furthermore, The Inclusive Government will for the coming summer crop season be calling for increased contract farming.
In this regard, agro-processing companies are now invited to begin making arrangements for provision of inputs, financing and extension support to farmers on a Contract farming win-win basis.
Effective Land Utilisation
Interventions beyond farmer capacity and viability will also be necessary to deal with the effective utilisation of farming land, central to an integrated recovery of agriculture.
Guidelines on production targets, taking account of agro-ecological regions will, therefore, be necessary. Those demonstrating poor commitment and inability would be considered for reallocation in line with their capabilities.
Where streamlining and consolidating subdivisions in order to align farm activities with corresponding infrastructure already in place is unavoidable for viable productivity, the necessary interventions will be undertaken.
Taking advantage of the abundant water bodies, irrigation rehabilitation of existing irrigation schemes will be critical in preparation for the coming 2009 summer and winter cropping seasons.
The measures in support of quick fix irrigation rehabilitation will focus on completion of on going projects and schemes growing maize, seed maize and winter wheat, among other crops.
Training & Extension Services
Training of farmers to strenghten their agricultural skills' capacity will be intensified, taking advantage of the various colleges, farmer-training centres as well as on-site farm training.
This will be complemented by extension support services through AGRITEX and other agricultural arms.
The Inclusive Government recognises the importance of farmers organising themselves into self-reliant commodity-based Farmer Associations which foster interaction, provide fora for research, technical and marketing support for farmers as well as facilitate the development of own extension services.
The farming community, including the Unions, will be supported in spearheading a targeted process of developing and deepening the establishment of specialised Agricultural Commodity Associations.
The Inclusive Government will seek to promote the establishment of a commodity exchange in Zimbabwe. This will ensure that farmers get competitive prices for their commodities, whilst also facilitating the mobilisation of funds for the agricultural sector.
Interventions to rebuild the national herd, targeting communal, resettlement, small and large-scale farmers, spread across all provinces will be needed.
Priority will also be given to rehabilitation of both large and small-scale dairy farms as well as support for rearing small animal stock, including poultry and piggery.
Animal husbandry training support, particularly for the new farmer, will benefit improved livestock management. This will have to be complemented by enhanced capacity of livestock extension service providers, such as the Veterinary Department.
Financial requirements for this programme will cater for dipping chemicals, equipment, and inputs for production of stock feeds.
The urgency of the integrated National Programme for Agricultural Recovery arises from the present threats of widening food imbalances and famine, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa as weather patterns change in response to global warming.
These threats should be taken advantage of as opportunity to reorganise our agricultural sector to inject vibrancy, benefiting also from the firming prices and expanding global grain and cereal demand, against the background of development of bio-fuels.
The benefits for the domestic maize, wheat or soya-bean farmer are immense, as production surpluses in the local market are readily absorbed by the global market.