Zimbabwe has the potential to retain its status as a breadbasket for the Sadc region if farmers embrace Government policies such as Command Agriculture and maximise the use of local resources, Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga said yesterday.

In a speech read on his behalf at the official opening of the Victoria Falls Agricultural Show by Minister of State in his office, Cde Evelyn Ndlovu, VP Chiwenga challenged farmers to produce for export and contribute towards the vision of turning the country into a middle-income economy in 12 years’ time.

Water harvesting, he said, is critical in anchoring Government’s new thrust to switch from reliance on rain-fed agriculture.

“This show marks another milestone towards fulfilment of our goal as Government for self-sufficiency in food security, balanced nutrition and value addition at household level and the nation at large.

“Agriculture is one of the key drivers of the green economy and can address issues of livelihoods and food security and Government subscribes to the implementation of policies that promote a green economy,” said VP Chiwenga.

“As Government, we encourage sustainable development by optimising use of natural resources. Water harvesting is one of Government programmes to harness this precious liquid for both consumption and irrigation, and let’s all join hands in this programme as communities and the private sector for us to achieve our food-basket status for Sadc, which we had a few years ago,” he said.

The Victoria Falls Agricultural Show is a district exhibition which attracts rural small-scale farmers, the business community, small to medium enterprises, Government ministries and the academia.

Victoria Falls and the whole of Hwange district, he added, should leverage on its new Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status to unleash its potential in horticulture, including the production and export of high-end teak and mahogany furniture, fish farming, production of oils and small grains.

Its allure as a favoured tourist destination can also help add fillip to economic growth in the province, he said.

VP Chiwenga implored farmers to use the show as a springboard to launch into international markets.

“The Victoria Falls International Airport now competes favourably with other major airports in the region as it can now land any large aircraft in the world. Therefore, farmers must take advantage of the upgraded airport to export horticultural products to different niche markets across the globe,” he said.

Local farmers should also venture into citrus fruits production for export, taking advantage of favourable weather conditions.

The expansion of Command Agriculture to include livestock, wildlife, fisheries and small grains, he said, also puts Matabeleland region is good stead to benefit from the empowering programmes.

He implored Victoria Falls Municipality to allocate land for a permanent exhibition site.

VP Chiwenga said the show’s theme, “Building Green Economic Linkages and Beneficiation Networks”, resonates with President Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030 as it challenges Zimbabweans to attach great importance to the sustainable utilisation of resources and beneficiation to advance industrialisation of the economy.

He called for all stakeholders to support the show, while also challenging the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry to come up with a masterplan that promotes investment in hotel accommodation in the resort town to meet the ever-growing demand.

Show organiser Mr Tendai Moyo said his vision is to attract regional exhibitors.

There were more than 70 exhibitors, including 18 SMEs, at yesterday’s event.

Ends

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