BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
ZIMBABWE’S agriculture sector players should immediately come up with strategies on how to grow the sector in the face of climate change and limited access to appropriate funding among other challenges, a government official has said.
Addressing delegates attending the ongoing integrated results-based strategic planning workshop in Bulawayo yesterday, Lands ministry permanent secretary John Bhasera said challenges such as climate change were a threat to the agriculture sector.
“Climate change, low productivity, pest and diseases, limited access to appropriate finance, to mention just a few, are hitting our sector hard. These are our current realities, but we need to face them head-on so that we grow,” Bhasera said.
“Importantly, we need to shift our thinking gears from negative-thinking to positive-thinking, from positive-thinking to possibility-thinking, from possibility-thinking to creative thinking. Let’s come up with strategies on how to grow our sector, lest we die. Anything which is not growing is dying. It is our responsibility to grow the agriculture sector….,” he said.
Bhasera said agriculture, which is the country’s economic backbone, had been experiencing several challenges, mainly caused by climate change.
The country has been experiencing extreme weather conditions such as recurrent droughts and heat waves over the past few years.
The other challenges include limited access to finance, low productivity levels, high cost of doing business as well shortage of water and electricity.
He urged industry players to start harnessing their comparative advantages, climate proofing agriculture, come up with irrigation development agenda, increase mechanisation development, improve all farms efficiencies and to build competitiveness, capacitation of extension services as well as improve linkages between research and extension services.
Bhasera said industry players should also improve water management systems, climate change adaptation and research, access to appropriate finance for farmers and agriculture value chain, private sector participation in agriculture, private public partnerships, land tenure system and 99-year lease agreement, tapping into ICTs, growth plan for national herd, finalisation of the agricultural policy framework.
“We need to grow our agriculture and our economy. Our agriculture will play a central role in that…,” he said.