Government is accelerating construction of dams and development of modern irrigation schemes to climate-proof agriculture under a comprehensive plan geared to guarantee food self-sufficiency, President Mnangagwa has said.
Already, more than 60 percent of the targeted 350 000 hectares is now under irrigation through implementation of the irrigation development programme meant to mitigate the ravages of climate change.
The President was addressing thousands of Zanu-PF supporters at Beaulieu Primary School during victory celebrations for Cde Misheck Mugadza, who won the Mutasa South National Assembly seat during the March 26 by-elections. Cde Mugadza beat Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) candidate, Mr Regai Tsunga.
President Mnangagwa also commissioned two classroom blocks and a computer lab at the school.
The country, said the President, was on course to safeguard adequate food production through rigorous climate change mitigation measures.
“We did not liberate this country to persecute people, but to empower them. We want to ensure food security in the country through the full utilisation of our land. We know that we are facing the climate change challenges, but we are working round the clock to come up with solutions to address this.”
Government, he added, was accelerating construction of dams and irrigation development.
“We have covered more than 60 percent of the land we want under irrigation. We have done our maths to know the total hectarage that we want to be under maize and other grains so that we have enough food for our people with or without good rains.”
He said this year’s historic winter wheat production was testament to the efficacy of irrigation fed agricultural production. Zimbabwe, he added, is projected to produce wheat to cover domestic demand for over 13 months.
“Unlike in the past, we would produce wheat that would last us three months and rely on imports mostly from Ukraine. There is conflict in Ukraine and this disrupted wheat production in that country, spurring us into action and we are pleased with the results. We should all utilise our land and not waste time fanning violence.”
He warned against abuse of agriculture inputs presently being distributed under various input support schemes, saying abusers will face the full wrath of the law.
“The inputs schemes are meant to cushion our farmers, especially those in rural areas. Those who abuse them and corruptly allocate them will face the music. Let me warn you that if you are caught abusing these inputs, you will regret it,” he said.
He called for value addition of all agriculture produce through collaborating with university innovation hubs.
“In Bindura, university students are doing wonders there. They are producing a lot of products among them soft drinks, jam, yoghurt, soap and body lotion from masawu. In Mwenezi, they are producing our local brand of amarula from mapfura and this is what we want to happen across the country when we fully utilise resources around us. Youths in Mutasa should be fully productive in horticulture and also come up with timber processing plants and factories that we will support.”
Turning to next year’s harmonised elections, President Mnangagwa urged party supporters to register in their numbers and vote peacefully. He said: “We want to ensure an overwhelming victory for the party next year. Hamuvarakashi chete, munovasvasvanga. Munosvasvanga vanhu through your votes. Youths should lead the massive win for Zanu-PF and we should teach them to be patriotic and love their country. No foreigner will develop this country.”
President Mnangagwa said Government “will not hesitate to kick out” non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating outside of their mandate.
“We came up with the Private Voluntary Organisation Amendment Bill to address this,” he added.
The President called on all churches to have their members’ children vaccinated against diseases like measles, which has claimed hundreds of lives in Manicaland province. He said while the ruling party enjoys a cordial working relationship with the church, there was no excuse for churches to promote vaccine hesitancy.
“There are so many churches in the country and we work very well with them especially the indigenous ones which preach the gospel of unity and love. They all support Government programmes, but everyone should ensure that all children are vaccinated. We want lives to be saved regardless of your religious beliefs.”
Manicaland recorded more than 3 000 measles cases and in excess of 350 deaths since the outbreak of the highly contagious disease early this year. A Honde Valley family in Mutasa District lost seven children to the disease after refusing medical help citing religious beliefs.
In response to the measles outbreak, Government deployed mobile vaccination teams targeting children between the ages of six months and 15 years. President Mnangagwa also donated 450 computers to 15 schools in Manicaland.
Yesterday’s event was attended by ZANU PF Vice President, Cde Kembo Mohhohadi, national chairman, Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Cdes Mike Bimha, Patrick Chinamasa and Ministers Monica Mutsvangwa, Jenfan Muswere and Mike Madiro among other senior Government officials.
— Sunday News