THE Presidential Rural Development Scheme, launched by President Mnangagwa at Jinjika Village, in the Makorokoro area of Mangwe District, Matabeleland South, last week is set to generate nearly one million jobs within the next couple of years and spur economic growth in rural areas.
The programme, which was launched last Wednesday at Sekusile-Makorokoro Nutrition Garden in Jinjika Village, is in line with the benchmarks outlined in the Agriculture and Food System Transformation Strategy (2020-2025) whose national thrust is to see Zimbabwe achieving a US$8,2 billion agriculture economy by 2025.
The strategy, which was launched by President Mnangagwa last year in August, is underpinned by growing the economy and ensuring Zimbabwe grows its own food and ensure the majority of rural families move from poverty to affluence.
The Presidential Rural Development Scheme will transform horticulture through increased access to potable drinking water to 10 million people living in rural areas, which translates to 70 percent of the country’s population.
In line with its ongoing restructuring exercise, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement has since created the provincial agriculture and rural development services director post to spearhead the rural projects to accelerate the attainment of Vision 2030.
The Presidential Rural Development Programme seeks to create a US$6 billion rural economy by 2025 rising to US$8 billion by 2028 from the current US$300 million.
Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the Presidential Rural Development Scheme, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said the programme will, in addition to benefitting 1, 8 million households, also generate employment for 840 000 people in the rural areas.
“When the project is in full swing 700 000 villagers will be employed daily throughout the country in addition to the 140 000 youths who will be employed directly.
There will be many services associated with this programme,” he said.
“This is an exciting phase in the transformation of our country and the rural economy as we create source businesses.
We are also going to employ 35 000 youths to manage the schemes under this programme in the next two years as we roll out this programme.”
The components of the Presidential Rural Development scheme include a borehole in 25 000 villages in communal areas and 9 000 villages in resettlement areas.
“Each village will have a village borehole with safe drinking water which will also become an economic enabler to enable the village to engage in meaningful horticulture. We are currently focusing on communal areas for now so that no one and no place is left behind,” said Dr Masuka.
The programme is expected to uplift over 1,8 million households from poverty into prosperity through increased household incomes as well as the creation of employment and empowerment opportunities.
Each village will also be empowered with a nutrition garden with a wide range of fruit trees and sweet potato vines being distributed to households.
Government will also drill 9 600 boreholes for schools while each ward will receive two boreholes for youth horticulture projects.
“Youths are an important demographic; hence the President has allowed us to include two boreholes per ward for the youths so that they can also start their projects,” he said.
Dr Masuka said the Presidential Rural Development Scheme will create agro-based rural industries.
“It will also create ward-based agro-businesses and school based agricultural entrepreneurship. We are also saying rural agricultural development will lead to rural industrialisation, which will spur rural development,” he said.
“Rural development will in turn facilitate and accelerate the attainment of Vision 2030. We have mainstreamed all water sanitation and health aspects into the Presidential Rural Development Scheme.”
Dr Masuka said the programme will transform 1,8 million rural households from subsistence farming to surplus oriented farming.
“We want them to become active economic participants rather than passive economic spectators. Through this programme, we seek to transform 60 000 A1 farmers from surplus oriented farmers to successful micro family owned and operated agro-businesses perennially producing surpluses coming from the realisation that farming is a business,” he said.
“We also want to transform the 21 000 A2 farmers to become serially successful agricultural businessmen and women.”
Dr Masuka said under the Horticulture Recovery and Development Plan, Government seeks to complement current efforts such as the Presidential Climate-Proof Input Scheme Pfumvudza/Intwasa for cereals and cotton to guarantee food security while providing good nutrition and incomes.
“The Horticulture Recovery and Development Plan has two components that is horticulture recovery sub-plan for convectional horticulture and the second one is the sub-plan called horticulture development dubbed the Presidential Rural Development Scheme,” he said.
“This is a Vision 2030 accelerator model based on the mantra no-one and no-place should be left behind. Elements of the Agriculture and Food System Transformation Strategy are clearly represented in the National Development Strategy (NDS1), and among the objectives we seek to achieve food, feed, oils, fibre and bio-fuel security for the nation by 2024.”
Dr Masuka said through the newly introduced securitised A2 Model Settlement Permit with advanced security features to curb fake offer letters, A1 and A2 farmers are now required to complete and return annual productivity forms.
“We are doing this so that we can gather insights into the challenges that they face in agriculture, but more importantly, so that we can craft the relevant policies to enable them to view agriculture as a business so that they can thrive and prosper and make the land reform a success,” he said.