Include women, youth in agric — President

The Herald

Elita Chikwati

Agriculture Reporter

Implementation of programmes and allocation of resources towards reforming, modernising and growing the agricultural sector are being accelerated to end hunger, boost farm incomes and so grow the economy in general, President Mnangagwa said yesterday when officially opening the 110th Zimbabwe Agricultural Show at the Exhibition Park in Harare.

Stakeholders in the agriculture industry have been urged to come up with strategies of capacitating women and youth to boost production, access markets and realise benefits from their enterprises.

The show is being held against the background of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen organisers restricting the number of visitors and following the World Health Organisation guidelines by ensuring all wear masks, have their temperature checked and sanitise their hands.

Yesterday morning, President Mnangagwa, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and Vice President Kembo Mohadi toured selected stands.

President Mnangagwa toured the home industries hall, the Belarus stand where he had the chance to see the modern agriculture equipment, the Command Agriculture stand, livestock section, Zanu PF stand and the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement stand, among others.

At the Tobacco Research Board stand, President Mnangagwa was taken through the Kutsaga Research Station exhibition where chief executive Dr Dahlia Garwe explained the critical research that keeps Zimbabwean tobacco desirable around the world.

At the Zanu PF stand, he had the opportunity to see the products of small and medium enterprises, including value additions to traditional foods.

At Seed Co and Agriseeds stands, the President was updated on the new crop varieties produced by the two seed houses that will be on the market this season.

President Mnangagwa later officially opened the show, where he addressed a gathering and presented prizes to outstanding exhibitors for displaying innovative solutions in response to Covid-19.

The official opening ceremony was

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Include women, youth in agric — President

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attended by the First Lady, Vice Presidents, ministers, senior Government officials, captains of industry and farmers.

This year’s official opening was unique due to Covid-19 restrictions, without the traditional entertainment from the uniformed forces and drum majorette displays.

President Mnangagwa commended the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society for managing to hold the event despite the challenges imposed by Covid-19

“The theme for this 2020 Zimbabwe Agricultural Show — Synergies for Growth: Cooperate, Collaborate, Complement — is in sync with the Second Republic’s values of unity, dialogue and hard honest work,” he said.

“I exhort players in the sector to leverage on this unique edition of the agricultural show to re-define areas of synergy, whilst deepening collaboration in the ever-changing and demanding world. Production, productivity and profitability of the sector through multi-faceted strategies to grow our agri-business and the associated value chains should remain one of our key priorities.”

President Mnangagwa said mechanisation remained a key enabler to the broad agenda and was the underlying objective of the launch of the John Deere and Belarus mechanisation facilities.

“Accelerated mechanisation programme will see more prudent land utilisation and enhance the productivity efficiencies of our farmers,” he said.

The President urged stakeholders to make agriculture attractive to youth, who constitute 60 percent of the population.

“I challenge you, therefore, ‘to make agriculture cool’ by implementing deliberate strategies to excite and help young people get into agriculture as a business and also create a youthful agri-business sector in our country,” he said.

Women were crucial in agriculture and the rural economy through their role models as farmers, workers and entrepreneurs. Efforts to achieve agriculture development, economic growth and food security would be strengthened and accelerated if they were built on contributions made by women.

“I challenge you to deliberately adopt strategies that lift women up and alleviate their specific concerns,” said President Mnangagwa. “It is vital that women are facilitated to improve their enterprises and access to markets, as you collaborate and complement; do not leave women behind.”

Farmers’ associations, those in transport and logistics, manufacturers and retailers were urged to collaborate and prepare for the imminent boom of the agriculture sector as Government-initiated programmes boost farm incomes and so create markets.

President Mnangagwa said programmes such as Pfumvudza would end hunger and commended farmers for implementing the technique.

“Research, innovation and development should continue to play a significant role towards benchmarking our agriculture practices and value chains for broad empowerment and national development,” he said.

The Herald