Smart agriculture has the potential to help farmers increase their yields through adoption of modern, technologically enabled farming methods, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
In a speech read on his behalf by Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri at the Smart Agriculture Conference in Marondera on Friday, President Mnangagwa said Government has lined up a number of smart agriculture projects.
“Smart agriculture is the way to go because through adapting to modern ways of farming, we will increase productivity and become a major exporter of agricultural produce.
“Productivity and utilisation of agricultural land has been hampered by the adverse effects of climate change, constrained access to markets and inadequate skills among some of our farmers.
“As Government, we are geared towards transforming the sector through broadening access to agricultural finance and inputs; promoting productivity, enhancing extension services and infrastructure and developing markets for our value-added products to earn foreign currency.”
He encouraged stakeholders in different provinces to take advantage of the smart agriculture initiative as it would ably complement Government’s push for devolution.
“I realise that agriculture is the mainstay of Zimbabwe’s economy, hence this programme is indeed most opportune.
“As Government, we continue to encourage stakeholders within the respective provinces to take stock of their natural and man-made endowments and craft specific, achievable development plans towards the achievement of Vision 2030,” he said.
He also urged institutions of higher learning to create innovation hubs and industrial parks to spearhead smart agriculture.
“Your research and innovations should cut across all key sub-sectors of agriculture production such as cropping, dairy, grain, poultry, beef, piggery, fisheries, wildlife, horticulture, apiculture and all cash crops in the various agro-ecological zones.”
The smart agriculture programme is the brainchild of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and was launched in 2010 to promote agricultural best practices, particularly integrated crop management, conservation agriculture, inter-cropping, improved seeds and fertiliser management, as well as supporting increased investment in agricultural research.