The European Union (EU) has acknowledged Zimbabwe’s efforts to revive and grow the agriculture sector, and reaffirmed its commitment to continue supporting the African nation through funding of some the sector’s programmes.
Zimbabwe this year projected to produce 2,5 million to 2,8 million tonnes of maize and 360 000 tonnes of traditional grains, in what could turn out to be the largest yield achieved by the country since the fast-tack land reform commenced in 2000.
To date maize deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) have surpassed 900 000 tonnes for the period from April, compared to the 138 000 tonnes of grain received over the same period last year.
The EU funded the Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP) at the tune of 40 million Euros, under which six projects are being implemented to boost the livestock sector, maximise smallholder farmer’s profits and improve competitiveness on domestic and international markets.
EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Timo Olkkonen said they were committed to continue supporting agriculture in Zimbabwe.
“We are committed to support the agriculture in Zimbabwe also in continuation. We are now in the midst of planning for our future co-operation from 2021 to 2027 and we have three major support areas one of them is green growth,” he said in an interview after a tour of the projects being carried out at the Matopos Research Institute Agricultural Centre of Excellence (MACE) last week.
MACE is one of the six Agricultural Centers of Excellence (ACEs) that were established by the Government under the EU funded Zimbabwe Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Services (ZAKIS) project.
Amb Olkkonen said the green growth project will need a more holistic attitude towards addressing the economic agenda in an economically sustainable way. He said they will be looking at supporting agriculture as well as natural resources management in a wider scope.
“Also, we will be looking at renewable energy solutions in combination with the green growth agenda. How we go about it depends on the learns we would have learnt from our current programme ZAGP.”
Amb Olkkonen said with the ZAGP coming to an end in 2023, they wanted the programme to succeed so that they learn from what went well and where there were shortcomings. He said he was impressed with the performance and outcome of the projects that were being carried out though some started off late.
“Some components in the ZAGP got into a faster start than others. Some have experienced some delays for various reasons, shift in focus and planning for good reasons. All the various components are picking up and things are starting to move.
“The ZAGP has not only been supporting agriculture, but we see the ZAKIS component in supporting the economic growth and the potential Zimbabwe has in this regard.”
Welthungerhilfe (WHH) Zimbabwe country director Mrs Regina Feindt said as an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) they were impressed with progress being made under some of the projects they were supporting in the ZAGP.
These included the ZAKIS, Inclusive Poultry Value Chain (IPVC) and the Beef Enterprise Strengthening and Transformation (BEST) in partnership with other NGOs, organisations and the private sector. Department of Research and Specialist Services acting director, Dr Dumisani Kutyawo said ZAKIS was a shot in the arm in terms of the Government development trajectory in research.