The country’s agriculture sector took a heavy knock from cyclone induced floods and drought that saw the country recording a deficit of 800 000 tonnes of staple maize in 2019 that need to covered by imports.
The country requires at least 2 million tonnes of cereals to cater for both human and livestock consumption.
Against this background, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube allocated $1,9 billion to the sector.
Some of the key areas to receive attention are in the table below;
|Programme||Allocation (ZWL$ million )|
|Agricultural Education and Extension Services||340.1|
|Crop and Livestock Research and Technology||176.6|
|Land Survey and Mapping||63.5|
In his budget, Minister Ncube emphasised the need to embrace climate smart agriculture that he said will improve prospects for agriculture sector, which is projected to grow by at least 5 percent in 2020.
This growth is attributable also to a better rainfall expected during the 2019/2020 season, supported by timely disbursements of inputs, the Minister said.
“In line with this thrust, emphasis will be on better planning, shared financing burden between Government and private players, productivity which also relies on irrigation and marketing systems which guarantee farmer viability.
“The 2020 Budget makes a turning shift from ad-hoc planning to more forward planning, particularly in terms of availability of inputs on the market.
“Therefore, the budget will ensure starting in January 2020 establish an appropriate financing plan which ensures early build up and ring-fencing of both local currency resources and foreign exchange in support of domestic inputs producers and importation of inputs,” he said.
The Minister said this resolves the challenge of agriculture demands competing with other programmes for both domestic and forex resources during the last quarter of the year, which apparently coincides with the start of summer cropping season.
“Accordingly, for capacitation of the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, I am allocating $1,9 billion for its prioritised programmes.”
The issue of climate change that has seen water bodies drying up, livestock and game dying, is a reality.
Without proper planning and mitigation interventions agro-backed economies such as Zimbabwe will suffer the most.
Against this background, Minister Ncube proposed measures to deal with “climatic shocks”.
He said; “Over the years, Zimbabwe has been experiencing severe droughts at a rate of 1 in ten years and mild droughts of 1 in 3 years. Given that the economy is highly dependent on rain fed agriculture, there is an urgent need to drought proofing the sector. ( See graph below)
He therefore said there is a greater possibility that 2019/2020 season will be another bad season. Such developments, if they materialise, may escalate Government expenditures on grain importation, infrastructure rehabilitation and disease control
“Government is, therefore creating a fiscal buffer to the tune of $165 million to cater for drought shocks, as well as strengthening the early warning systems.
“Other, drought proofing measures such as investment in irrigation infrastructure, dam construction and desalination as well as research and extension services, adoption of drought resistant varieties (traditional grains) will be put in place during the 2020 agricultural season,” he said.
The 2020 Budget allocates $281,5 towards agricultural extension and advisory services to facilitate dissemination of agricultural information, new technologies and improved agricultural practices.
Irrigation and Food Security
Under the 2020 Budget, irrigation development is receiving top priority in order to guarantee food security in the country. Government will, therefore, target irrigable hectarage to guarantee grain production of around 1,8 million tonnes.
For this purpose, capable farmers with irrigation facilities will be identified with a view of contracting and supporting them to produce required grains specifically for food
“Similarly, the 200ha per district irrigation programme will be supported, taking advantage of Smart Agriculture, which promotes solar irrigation systems.
“For the total irrigation programme, the Budget provides $422,8 million,” he said.