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UN avails $300m for Command Agriculture

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Sunday News May 7, 2017

Lungile Tshuma, Sunday News Correspondent
THE United Nations has availed a $300 million fund for Command Agriculture
in the next four years, a development which will help Government efforts
to expand the programme and build on the success of this season.

Zimbabwe is basking in the glory of a bumper harvest this year following a
successful agriculture season which was boosted by good rains and support
from Government through Command Agriculture and the Presidential Input

In an interview, UN in Zimbabwe communication specialist Mr Sirak
Gebrehiwot said the international agency was working with Government to
ensure its policy of ensuring food security and nutrition and Command
Agriculture continues to bear fruits through community capacity building.

He said Command Agriculture can be more successful when communities are
empowered while investment at national level, that is, supporting
irrigation schemes is going on.

Said Mr Gebrehiwot: "Under our assistance framework we have a result area
where we are providing assistance to the Government in the food security
and nutrition area with a tune of $300 million over a period of four years
and this in terms of providing, this includes community asset building and
technical support."

He said the scheme was in line with the Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs), which the country is a a signatory of.

"The United Nations has already identified that Zimbabwe is a country with
both the potential and capacity to be the bread basket of Africa. Food
security and nutrition is one area which Zimbabwe can easily achieve given
the right policy and Command Agriculture is one policy which the
Government is bringing in to address food security issues," he said.

He said besides the money, UN together with its developmental partners has
also mobilised funds to empower communities instead of the hand to mouth
handouts which have proved to be detrimental.

"Together with the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation
Development, we have pooled funds to counter climate change on helping
communities to be resilient and use adaptation and mitigation measures.

The fund looks after consortiums where communities come together, propose
an idea related to food security which includes building water harvesting
and management facilities," said Mr Gebrehiwot.

Under the scheme, he said, communities submit their proposals and after
making the grade they are given the fund.

The facility started last year and so far 85 000 people have benefited
from the programme which he said has a direct bearing on food security and

He said support of their developmental partners like World Food Programme
(WFP) have shifted from giving food to community to engaging in community
asset building where communities come with ideas on how to improve food
security and this might include horticulture, and livestock keeping. Over
140 000 people are already involved in this project, he said.

Mr Gebrehiwot added that the country has set a good framework for the
attainment of SGDs with sound policies like Command Agriculture going to
be the panacea in ensuring that food security and nutrition is achieved.

He said: "All in all we can simply say we are directly and indirectly
supporting Government in ensuring that food security and nutrition is
attained in the country. Within the Government commitment to Command
Agriculture and food security issues, we are simply on the same page on
those matters."

Zimbabwe is expecting to harvest 2,7 million of cereals of which 2,1
million tonnes are expected to come from maize while the remaining 500 000
tonnes will come from small grains. When it was introduced, the Command
Agriculture scheme targeted farmers near water bodies who could put a
minimum of 200 hectares under maize per individual. Each farmer was
required to produce at least 1 000 tonnes of maize and required to commit
five tonnes per hectare towards repayment of advanced loans in the form of
irrigation equipment, inputs and chemicals, mechanised equipment,
electricity and water charges.

Farmers were to retain the surplus.
Original: http://www.sundaynews.co.zw/un-avails-300m-for-command-agriculture/

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