By Ndafadza Madanha
GOVERNMENT is supportive of efforts by urbanites to engage in urban agriculture as a way to supplement their income and ensure household food security.
ZANU PF recognises that agriculture provides livelihoods to over 70 percent of Zimbabwe’s population hence the numerous intervention measures such as the Presidential Input Support Scheme and the Pfumvubva concept which seeks to improve food security.
Minister of Local Government and Public Works Cde July Moyo, said urban dwellers can engage in urban agriculture as long as the area is not designated as wetlands.
"In the planning of all urban areas, a lot of them encompass areas that are arable before they are built up for either industrial, commercial and residential accommodation. It is the policy of Government to encourage families who are within those urban areas, even though an area has been designated as part of the master plan as long as the master plan implementation has not reached the areas which are agricultural very viable, we encourage citizens to cultivate and to use this as supplement to their own income,” Cde Moyo said.
“This, as Zimbabweans we have practiced over many years and we continue to do so. However, a lot of people end up going to wetlands and these are areas that are reserved for our waterways. We do not encourage people to start cultivating along stream banks because that has an effect of producing sand that ends up filling in the dams.
“While we encourage urban agriculture, we do not want that urban agriculture to end up being done on wetlands and on stream banks but only on areas that we think is not injurious to the ecosystem of the urban land.”
Studies have shown that produce from urban farming is affordable because it does not require transportation and refrigeration and consumers especially low-income residents enjoy easier access to fresh produce, greater choice and better prices.
Urban agriculture provides employment and incomes for poor women and other disadvantaged groups. For instance, horticulture can generate one job every 100sqm garden in production, input supply, marketing and value-addition from producer to consumer.