Agric an important economic activity

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Letters to the editor

AGRICULTURE provides employment for about two-thirds of the continent’s working population and for each country contributes an average of 30% to 60% to gross domestic product and about 30% of the value of exports.

Nonetheless, arable land and land under permanent crops occupy only about 6% of Africa’s total land area.

Except for countries with sizeable populations of European descent — such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Kenya — agriculture has been largely confined to subsistence farming and has been considerably dependent on the inefficient system of shifting cultivation, in which land is temporarily cultivated with simple implements until its fertility decreases and then abandoned for a time to allow the soil to regenerate.

Much of Africa’s arable land has generally been allocated through a complex system of communal tenure and ownership rather than through individually acquired title, and peasant farmers have had shaky rights to use relatively small and scattered holdings.

This system of land ownership has tended to keep the intensity of agricultural production low and has inhibited the rate at which capital has been mobilised for modernising production.

A number of countries have made efforts to raise productive levels by selecting better varieties of seeds and planting materials, using tractors and other mechanised equipment, or increasing the use of mineral fertilisers and insecticides.

Such measures, however, have been relatively limited, and they have raised concerns over their role in accelerating soil erosion and desertification. In areas of cash crop production, land has become private rather than community property, and cultivation is intensive.

The persistence of relatively low-productive agricultural systems on large parts of the continent also stems from a lack of integration between crop production and animal husbandry.

Traditionally, sedentary cultivators like the Hausa in Nigeria and the Kikuyu in Kenya live apart from their nomadic herdsmen neighbours (the Fulani and Maasai, respectively), with the result that large areas of the continent do not have access to animals for draft power or manure for fertiliser.

The incidence of such insect pests as the tsetse fly also discourages mixed farming in many areas.

The need to sharply increase food production to meet the demands of a rapidly growing population has, however, remained paramount.     New Farmer

Leaders should dare us to dream

ZIMBABWE needs a new crop of leaders because the current ones have dismally failed to turn around our once vibrant economy.

Our leaders need to think outside the box and devise new ways of revamping this economy, which has  been in free-fall at an uncontrollable speed.

We are fast heading towards the 2008 hyperinflationary era. We are spending hours dwelling on petty issues, while the economy is crumbling.

Productive time is being lost as workers spend hours in bank and transport queues.

All hope has been lost. Thousands of university graduates are finding it hard to find employment in the formal sector.

We act as if we cannot see the root cause of the mushrooming of vendors who are selling all kind of basic commodities on the streets. Unemployment has caused all kind of street vending.

People are sick and tired of cheap politicking. We have failed to resuscitate our industries which have been lying dormant for quite a long time.

I do not understand the position of most opposition political parties which masquerade as democrats, but continue failing the people and taking them for a ride. These politicians have failed to improve the lives of the sons and daughters of Zimbabwe who have borne the brunt of Zanu PF misgovernance. Cry my beloved country.

All hope is lost and our leaders have pressed a self-destruct button. They should just swallow their pride and pave way for a new crop of leaders who still have the zeal and energy to take this country forward.

At this rate, Zimbabwe will never achieve the upper middle class economy by 2030. Zimbabwe requires leaders in the mould of Nelson Chamisa, who dares us to dream.           Sugar Daddy

Zanu PF must dig its grave faster

ZANU PF’S desire for self-destruction is breathtaking.

The Zanu PF government has continually waged war against its own citizens since independence in 1980.

First, it was the so-called dissidents during the Gukurahundi era, then the white commercial farmers and their labourers, then the opposition, then all the people perceived to be outside of the ruling party, and now Zimbabweans.

Over the weekend, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a cocktail of measures aimed at halting the sliding Zimdollar.

He introduced a 4% tax on local forex mobile money transfers and a 2% withdrawal charge on nostros.

The government also suspended lending by banks and micro-financial institutions. This has a damning effect  on small-to-medium enterprises, which have become the mainstay of the economy. These measures come a few weeks after government rushed the not-so popular Patriotic Bill through Parliament. How can you regulate patriotism?

And the Private Voluntary Organisation Bill is in the offing, obviously to silence perceived government critics.

All these laws are not necessary — they are anti-people. Surely Zanu PF is digging its own grave.

Our only desire is just that it should dig it faster because the nation is in agony.

The government has declared war on its own people. And the regional and international communities do not seem to care.

Pride prevents Zanu PF officials from seeing the error of their own ways and this pride is helping build barriers that block all chances for a reconciliation.

Many of us have tried, unstintingly, to minister wisdom and truth to Zanu PF, but it seems they are hellbent on their own self-destruction.

At one time, no one wanted to see that happen, but now, to the vast majority of suffering Zimbabweans, if only it could happen sooner than later.

And if anyone in the “ruining” party has ears, let him/her hear: The cause has become the lost cause.Chief Chiduku