By Byron Mutingwende
Agricultural transformation plays an important role in eradicating poverty and hunger, fighting inequality and discrimination as well as tackling climate change to promote peaceful and inclusive societies to achieve sustainable development.
The Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, Mr. Vangelis Haritatos revealed this at the National Dialogue on Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation being held at the Meikles Hotel from 13 to 14 November 2019.
He said the agricultural transformation agenda is already cut out in international, regional and national development frameworks such as the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that aims at ‘leaving no one behind’ by 2030, Africa’s Agenda 2063, Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods and Zimbabwe’s Vision 2030 on the attainment of an upper middle-income economy status by the year 2030.
“The agendas aspire to eradicate poverty and hunger, fight inequality and discrimination, tackle climate change and promote peaceful and inclusive societies for the achievement of sustainable development,” Mr. Haritatos said.
He called for a shift from agriculture that is based merely on subsistence, to commercial agriculture that is run like a business. The deputy minister said agriculture should be productive, efficient, profitable and diversified with a broader export base including non-traditional enterprises that are high value such as berries.
It was emphasised that agricultural transformation should include a wide range of reforms with sharp focus on private sector participation, value chain development and financing systems.
Mr. Bwenje Clemence Taderera, the Acting Chief Director of Strategic Policy Planning and Business Development in the Ministry of Agriculture said the National Agriculture Policy Framework, NAPF (2019-2030) seeks to provide policy guidance and direction on how to promote and support the sustainable flow of local and external investment and resources necessary to transform the agricultural sector through increased and sustained agricultural production, productivity and competitiveness.
“It also provides a relevant and evidence-based framework to guide and coordinate the development of sector-specific policies that will provide more details, priorities, implementing means, and enforcement mechanisms.
“However, in Zimbabwe, the major problems to be addressed by the NAPF relates to low institutional and human capacity and lack of a stable and enabling legal, policy and institutional framework, leading to diminished investor confidence in the agricultural sector, resulting in low levels of agricultural productivity and production,” Mr. Taderera said.
He said in view of the challenges of Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector, achieving sustained growth commensurate with poverty reduction, food and nutrition security and employment creation require a number of critical interventions.
He called for increased investments in agricultural research and development, technology and extension and adoption of climate- and business-smart technology and innovation.
On the other hand, it is important to ensure food and nutrition security for all through sustainable agricultural intensification, dietary diversification, improved access to land, finance and markets, and other resilience building measures.
“Some of the policy statements insist on investing more resources in the development of infrastructure to support agricultural production and marketing; improving the flows of agricultural finance; promoting equitable and secure land tenure and rights; and improving farmer resilience, increasing productivity through mitigation and adaptation to climate shocks and sustainability of agriculture and agri-food systems,” Mr. Taderera added.
The Agri-Invest project joint launched by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture seeks to put in place some of the institutional arrangements necessary to see the successful flow and implementation of investment initiatives in key agriculture value chains.
Dr. Alain Onibon, the Head of FAO in Zimbabwe said the Agri-Invest initiative when fully implemented will result in reduced imports and increased exports of agricultural products. This would also result in improved trade balance; job creation as well as food and nutrition security.
“Agri-Invest is an FAO initiative that seeks to leverage private investments in agrifood systems by fostering the creation of enabling policies and conducive regulatory conditions to ensure achievement of the SGDs. It offers solution-oriented platforms for a structured public-private dialogue, promoting relations of trust and evidence-based monitoring of results. The FAO has the right mix of knowledge and tools to push for responsible, SDG-compliant investments,” Dr. Onibon said.
It was also noted that agriculture modernization is key to agriculture transformation and to rapidly modern agriculture, there is need to engage the youths. And ensure that women farmers benefit significantly from renewed efforts to boost agriculture considering that women form a significant share of farmers.