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Adopt a value chain approach for food security: ZAS

The Zimbabwe Agricultural Society has urged the country to adopt a value chain approach which has proven to be the most cost effective mechanism of accelerating progress with consequent and wider positive multiplier effects on the national economy on the drive to food security.

Addressing delegates during the 6th annual Diplomats Awards held Sango Conference Centre in Harare, ZAS- the hosts of the annual Harare Agricultural Show, Chief Executive Officer Dr Anxious Masuka said with a firmly grounded resource based strategy, willing and capable actors as well as a solid foundation, the value chain approach was the best way to improving the socio economic status of the country.

ZAS this year adopted this approach which can be seen through its 2017 theme “Seed to Food: Innovate. Consolidate. Sustain.”

“From ideation, through to inputs suppliers – of machinery seed, chemicals, fertiliser, fuel, labour  -; to available, affordable and appropriate interest and correctly tenured financial resources-; to competent and motivated farmers; to assured markets through transparent, viable and sustainable off-take arrangements; to the availability of a ready market of perceptive consumers of quality, affordable and competitive products; and all this buttressed by, and perhaps enveloped in a predictable, conducive and enabling policy environment, Zimbabwe’s quantum leap to food security territory is possible, navigable and inevitable,” said Dr Masuka.

According to Dr Masuka, with innovation comes new ways of doing old things differently and doing new things.

He said at the farmer level the watch-phrase is “The Treble 10 Principle” or “T10” which encompasses a focus on 1) quantity – increase in yield per unit area 2) quality – improving quality of produce (3) cost – reducing the cost of producing a unit.

“For seed houses, this could mean new and better adapted varieties with low nitrogen use efficiency, and drought tolerance, and/or disease resistance, and varieties growing successfully at predicted higher temperatures and maturing earlier, without adverse yield reduction.

It could be conservation agriculture interventions, and cheaper water capture and efficient irrigation technologies. For fertiliser companies, this could mean deep placement technologies and new technologies to reduce costs, such as high analysis, blends and novel pH ameliorants, while at funding level this could translate to innovative value chain financing models excluding physical collateral models.”

Dr Masuka said innovative policies are needed for a business as unusual approach to radically change the course of events and spur economic growth through tailored special economic zones, being defined as a strategic value chain and not just a geographic reference.

Dr Masuka urged the country to address all parts of the chain so that they are coordinated, viable, interdependent, integrated and in harmony with the common goal, and then reinforce these ideas and activities to yield the desired effectiveness and efficiencies.

“Once innovation becomes a way of doing business, and with the value chain strengthened and consolidated, then it should be sustained through a dynamic, continual renewal and sharpening of activities and foci to sustain this food self-sufficiency state.

This is how we can achieve and sustain national food security. We had a discussion recently on climate smart agriculture where we were shown how it’s possible to achieve 800 kg from a 1/16 ha plot at USD 50.  This translates to over 10 tonnes per hectare at USD 800 per hectare.

This would reduce the burden on many rural women, and lighten the work of youth, while attaining household food security. The ZAS is passionate about this work and will continue to highlight the challenges and opportunities for climate smart agriculture to achieve food security,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Masuka went on to share ZAS’ new strategy that was agreed on at the 115th Annual Council General Meeting of the Society on 26 January 2017 where it was unanimously agreed by Members that the ZAS constitution be reviewed to make the ZAS activities more relevant to the current agricultural context and discourse, while charting a bold practical agricultural development trajectory to take the “new ZAS” confidently and sustainably well into the future.

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