Edgar Vhera-Agriculture Specialist Writer
FARMERS’ organisations have appealed to Government to avail more information on the National Agriculture Policy Framework to farmers and incorporate fisheries and rural development aspects in the policy to enhance its effectiveness.
Zimbabwe Integrated Commercial Farmers Union (ZICFU) president Mrs Mayiwepi Jiti yesterday said that although she knew about policy document it was not familiar to many farmers.
“NAPF was formulated for guidelines on investment in agriculture and farmer unions and all relevant entities in agriculture participated. Publication and awareness of the NAPF was slow due to lack of funding. The Government came up with the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme to assist in national food security, which is one of the objectives of the NAPF.
“There are still other areas such as the high cost of production due to the use of parallel market rates in fixing inputs prices and the expensive lending rates for borrowing that the policy needs to correct,” observed Mrs Jiti.
Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) president Mr Andrew Pascoe confirmed that he knew of the policy document but was not familiar with its finer details, though some activities taking place at the moment were being operationalised from it.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) secretary general Mr Paul Zakariya also conceded that he was aware of the policy document but was not aware of its legal standing.
President of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU), Dr Shadreck Makombe said the Government had successfully crafted the National Agriculture Policy Framework (NAPF) and did stakeholder engagements and strategic planning meetings to review the document and now needed to expedite its operationalisation.
“Now with the expanded mandate of the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development to take on board fisheries and rural development, there is need to add these two components into the final agriculture policy document to go to parliament for discussion, as soon as possible,” said Dr Makombe.
The overall objective of the NAPF is to provide policy guidance and direction on how to promote and support the sustainable flow of local and external investment and resources necessary to transform the agricultural sector through increased and sustained agricultural production, productivity and competitiveness.
The policy was crafted to address the low institutional and human capacity, lack of a stable and enabling legal, policy and institutional framework. If not addressed these diminish investor confidence in the agricultural sector culminating in low levels of agricultural productivity and production.
It also seeks to ensure that investments and interventions in the sector are private sector-led and public sector facilitated while it is participatory and aligned to agro-ecological potential and devolution agenda.
The policy groups the emerging challenges facing the agriculture sector into nine pillars: food and nutrition security and resilience; agriculture knowledge technology and innovation systems; production and supply of agricultural inputs; development of agricultural infrastructure; agricultural marketing and trade development; agricultural finance and credit; access, tenure security and land administration; resilient and sustainable agriculture and institutional arrangements for sector coordination and policy implementation.
Furthermore, it is built on the following nine guiding principles that cut across all pillars: evidence based; productivity and growth oriented; nutrition sensitive; collaborative and multi-sectoral; private sector-led and public sector facilitated; gender, youth and other vulnerable groups mainstreamed; market-based and sustainability.
It provides guidelines and directions to be followed in improving domestic agriculture production and thus reduce poverty.
On the one hand, it is set to identify key challenges constraining agricultural performance and define outcomes for the agricultural sector.
It is also modelled to articulate a roadmap to national and household food and nutrition security, promotion of conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources important for food and agriculture, generation of foreign currency, income and employment and increased agriculture’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP).
The policy is also meant to sustain industrial development through the provision of adequate agricultural raw materials, as well as enhance resilience to climatic and other shocks.
It is also designed to improve agricultural market access, exports, value addition and competitiveness while offering a conducive policy and regulatory environment for agricultural development.
It is also linked to other national policies especially those focusing on infrastructural development, particularly in the energy, transport and infrastructure, communication and technology (ICT) sectors.