Friday, June 15, 2007
Through our unshakable determination, today we are proud masters of our political and econo mic destiny. As the fountain of our collective heritage, which is back in our hands, the land, the land should now be transformed into acres upon acres or into hectares upon hectares of maximum productivity. It is in this context that government, with the assistance of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and other stakeholders, has embarked on a long term agricultural mechanisation program meant to give added impetus to the productivity of our farmers.
The mechanization program, whose implementation will span the next five years, focuses on equipping farmers with mechanized capability across the entire cropping cycle, covering tillage, planting, fertiliser and chemicals application, crop tendering as well as harvesting, and right up to transportation to the market. And we realize that it is only one dimension of our agriculture sector. The livestock sector is another area where equal inputs are needed in order for our livestock to also play a part in the same way cropping is intended to play a part. Experience here at home, in the region and all over the world has shown that farm productivity is directly linked to the degree of mechanization and specialization in the agro chain, hence my government has taken a bold step of strengthening and increasing the support available to our farmers through mechanization. Collaborate efforts between our ministers of agricultural engineering and mechanization and the Reserve Bank, among other players, has seen government procuring assorted farm machinery which we are proudly distributing to the initial batch of beneficiaries today.
I am informed that in total that this machinery constituting the first phase of the mechanization program comprises of some 925 tractors, 35 combine harvesters, 586 disc plows, 463 disc harrows, 78 fertiliser spreaders, 241 boom sprayers and 71 planters. I am informed that in determining today's list of beneficiaries, intensive interaction with community leadership structures played a predominant role that enabling the identification of those farmers who have consistently demonstrated impressive production levels. To this end, today's beneficiaries are men and women who are leaving the years of the government's support so they can now translate this new dawn into positive yields delivered to the Grain Marketing Board and other markets. As government we will continue to work towards the expansion of the mechanization program in order to empower the growing number of our farmers. Consideration will also be given to special interest groups who include women, the youths, war veterans and war collaborators as well as grassroots farmers on A1 and communal farms. As we work to reinvigorate agriculture productivity, government will remain alert to the varying needs of our farmers by ensuring that national resources are deployed in a manner that yields maximum impact.
Equally prominent in government's prepared way of national resource allocation is elimination of all forms and manner of corruption, favouritism or discrimination, and this I say of whatever nature of description. As Zimbabweans we need to turn the current challenges obtaining in the country into stepping stones towards macro-economic recovery and development. The equipment I have the honor of unveiling today should not be used as mere status symbols that eventually gathers rust and dust for lack of use. So that people say I have a tractor? That is not the way to go. Appropriate self service centers will be created countrywide to give farmers accessible spares and maintenance avenues. Minister Made has spoken about it.
Equally important is centralization systems for the procurement of spare parts and ancillary equipment should be formed to push out briefcase dealers who continue to wreck havoc on our economy by stoking up the inflation monster through shameless profiteering.
Of course, the rhetoric and the reality are two different things...