Friday, 3 November 2017

COMMAND AGRI NOT DUMPED : GOVT

President Mugabe has assured farmers and other stakeholders that Command Agriculture remains a key Government priority programme aimed at revitalising the country’s agro-processing industry, and will be prioritised this season. 

Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda issued a statement yesterday on behalf of the President, saying Cabinet remained resolute in support of Command Agriculture, which has since been extended to other areas apart from maize production.

“On behalf of His Excellency, the President, I wish, therefore, to take this opportunity to assure our hard- working farmers and all the other stakeholders that the expanded Command Agriculture Production Programme, which happens to be the fulcrum of the Zim-Asset’s food security and nutrition cluster and a vital cog in the revival of our agro-processing industry, remains a major Government priority programme. As such, focus should be on redoubling of efforts towards its successful implementation,” he said.

Dr Sibanda issued the statement in response to an article by the weekly Zimbabwe Independent insinuating that Cabinet rejected a proposal to extend the tenure of the Command Agriculture programme. The story, which appeared in this week’s edition of the newspaper, was headlined: 
“Cabinet rejects Mnangagwa proposal”. Dr Sibanda dismissed the article as inaccurate.

“Suffice to say that the article is grossly inaccurate and, indeed, completely at variance with the nature and tone of the discussion that took place at the said Cabinet meeting pertaining to the Command Agriculture Programme. The article is devoid of truth and smacks of deep-seated ulterior motives against this vital Government programme,” he said.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I wish to state categorically that the Command Agriculture Programme remains a key Government programme which enjoys the full support of Cabinet and all the arms of Government. More importantly, the Command Agriculture is firmly anchored in His Excellency the President Cde R.G. Mugabe’s vision of ‘revitalising agriculture and the agro-processing value chain’ as encapsulated in his Ten-Point Plan of August 25 2015.”

Dr Sibanda said the programme was well received locally and in Southern Africa and that Government had, in fact, expanded it to include other crops and animals.

“Under the Command Agriculture Production Programme, our farmers have indeed been empowered and enabled to unlock full value from Government’s sacrosanct land reform programme. In addition, the programme has created employment opportunities for a lot of our people and stimulated rural development and the ongoing expansion of grain storage infrastructure,” he said.

“Furthermore, it is a matter of public knowledge that Government has now expanded the Command Agriculture Production Programme to include other strategic crops, such as soyabean as well as fisheries and livestock, in line with His Excellency the President’s call for a targeted import substitution and export growth programme. It is indeed gratifying to note the programme has already attracted keen interest from some of the countries in the SADC region. The programme has indeed received overwhelming support and endorsement from the private sector and key stakeholders, including our hardworking farmers.”
Dr Sibanda said contrary to assertions by the Zimbabwe Independent, service chiefs were invited to the Cabinet meeting to help “fine-tune the machinery driving the implementation of this critical Government programme”, which assumed greater urgency as the rain season gathered momentum.

“The objective in such efforts is to ensure that any teething challenges detected are promptly and decisively addressed. It is within this context that the service chiefs were invited to the said Cabinet meeting. If anything, this firmly attests to the inclusive and broad-based nature of the structures that drive the implementation of the Command Agriculture Programme,” he said.

Dr Sibanda said in light of what exactly transpired in the Cabinet meeting with regards to the support for Command Agriculture to continue, the article by the Zimbabwe Independent “should be dismissed as baseless and completely unfounded”.

“Once again, I have to state that the negative mood, misplaced inferences and assertions in the ‘Zimbabwe Independent’ article are a complete misrepresentation of both the deliberations and position of Cabinet regarding the Command Agriculture Programme,” he said.

Command Agriculture was last year credited for ensuring a bumper harvest in the country, together with the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme and the good rains. Under the programme, farmers received inputs from Government and were oblidged to take five tonnes of the produce each to the Grain Marketing Board. herald

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