The farming sector sustains livelihoods of millions and anchor economic activities of many agro-based firms in Zimbabwe and this calls for an urgent need to invest more in agriculture as the country pushes for the implementation of the National Industrial Development Policy. The sector also plays a leading role in assisting the country attain the 2030 goals of becoming an upper middle-income economy.
In Africa, only four countries rank among the upper middle-income economies, South Africa, Namibia, Mauritius and Botswana. Zimbabwe is angling to join this group by 2030 and numerous measures among them supporting agriculture may deliver the country to the promised land.
Unpacking the National Industrial Development Policy (NIDP) 2019-2023 to business leaders at the recently held Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) congress in Victoria Falls, Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu emphasised the need to support agriculture, increase production in the sector that anchors the economy of Zimbabwe.
Minister Ndlovu added that increased production in agriculture will not only ensure food self-sufficiency, but also help cut on imports for industry subsequently saving foreign currency for other essential goods such as drugs and retooling.
Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in the Zimbabwean economy accounting for 70 percent of the raw materials required in the manufacturing sector.
It contributes approximately 12 percent to15 percent to the country’s GDP, employing close to 30 percent of the country’s working population and is a major source of livelihood for more than 80 percent of Zimbabweans.
“So it is important to make sure agriculture is supported. A vibrant agriculture sector will make sure our industries are running and do not import raw materials,” said Minister Ndlovu.
Proper implementation of the NIDP should see Zimbabwe boast technologically advanced, competitive and diversified industries by 2030, when the country aspires to be an upper middle income economy.
With a vibrant industry, manufacturing growth should average at least 2 percent per year while a merchandise export growth rate of 10 percent should be achieved every year.
Manufacturing sector share of employment should also increase to 20 percent by 2023 while also contributing towards attainment of gross domestic savings of rate of at least 30 percent of total GDP.
This, Minister Ndlovu said, can be achieved through innovation and investment, especially in agriculture. He added the link between the agriculture to the manufacturing sector makes agriculture output key to economic growth.
But as a result of recurring droughts that affected output and the economic constraints Zimbabwe has experienced of recent, the contribution of manufacturing to GDP declined to around 10 percent.
African Development Bank (AfDB) principal country economist Walter Odero said Zimbabwe has potential to meet its Vision 2030 of becoming an upper middle-income economy. The growth will be underpinned by mining, manufacturing and agriculture.
He emphasised the need to shift from traditional agriculture models, but adopt a new thrust that prioritises investment in agri-industries to drive industrialisation and economic upturn.
“As Zimbabwe, look at what you have and leverage on those. Look at the focus areas anchoring on agri-business,” he said.