Thursday, April 19, 2018

Use land, urges Shiri

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Midlands Correspondent
Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri (Retired) has implored beneficiaries of the Land Reform Programme to ensure maximum utilisation of land and boost productivity. Addressing farmers and villagers who attended a field day at President Mnangagwa’s Precabe Farm in Sherwood on the outskirts of Kwekwe, Air Chief Marshal (Rtd) Shiri said Zimbabwe should restore its status as the breadbasket of Africa and that could be achieved if beneficiaries of land reform maximised land utilisation to ensure food security.
He said agriculture was contributing 15 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and if there was maximum utilisation of land it could revert to being the backbone of the country’s economy.
“We went to war to fight for liberation. The struggle then was for independence, which included land. In the mid-90s we fought another struggle of land reform and we repossessed our land.
“Now the struggle that we have is to work to build the country. We want all the beneficiaries of land reform programme to utilise the land they got.
“We want them to be productive because we want to surpass what the former occupants of the same land used to do.
“We want to restore our status as Africa’s breadbasket and this can only be achieved if we utilise the land properly and be productive,” he said.
Air Chief Marshal (Rtd) Shiri said there was also need for people to ensure sustainable utilisation of land and environment for the benefit of future generations.
“When we took land from the settlers we did not do so that a few people would benefit. We should protect our land and environment so that our children and their children will also be able to enjoy these natural resources.
“The beauty with agriculture is that it does not deplete as mineral resources do, but it remains relevant as long as humans live,” he said.
Air Chief Marshal Shiri said this year the country would want to surpass last year’s and the previous years’ grain production.
Zimbabwe produced in excess of 2,1 million tonnes of maize due to Command Agriculture and the Presidential input support scheme under the stewardship of President Mnangagwa.
He said the country was in the process of installing centre pivots in all districts in the country to irrigate at least 200 hectares in rural communities.
The country has received 80 centre pivots from Spain and was expecting 50 more this year.
More than 1 000 centre pivots and other farming implements and equipment were expected in the country from Brazil, Spain, India and Belarus.