ZFU: Govt Should Help Struggling Smallholder Farmers
GWERU — The leader of the oldest indigenous farmer organization in the country has lamented Zimbabwe’s declining status in the agriculture sector.
Speaking in Gweru on Thursday during the official opening of the 73rd annual congress of the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU), president Silas Hungwe said it is sad that Zimbabwe, once the region’s bread-basket, has become a net importer of food.
Hungwe attributed the decline in agriculture in the country to drought and climate change. He called on the government to work with the private sector to help smallholder farmers, who are represented by his organization, saying this would help revive the sector.
Hungwe said the appointment of two deputy ministers of agriculture, one focusing on cropping mechanization and irrigation equipment, and the other on livestock, shows that the new government is prioritizing the sector.
He also praised the government for providing farmers with inputs. He, however, said there is need for the new government to parcel out the inputs in an organized manner as not all recipients of the inputs are productive farmers.
Hungwe slammed newly resettled farmers for starting veld fires and degrading the environment, adding the government must put in place stringent measures to punish perpetrators.
The Environmental Management Agency has in the past fingered some newly resettled farmers in the veld fire problem.
As a way of trying to help its members learn better farming methods, the ZFU has partnered with the Commercial Farmers’ Union, an organization for former white commercial farmers.
Agriculture deputy ministers Davis Marimira and Paddy Zhanda were among some of the senior government officials who attended the congress, held under the theme ‘Coping with drought and climate change for sustainable agricultural practice. The meeting ends Friday.