By Ndafadza Madanha - ZANU PF Information Department
THE Government of Zimbabwe and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will tomorrow host the National Dialogue on Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation.
Among the key speakers at the Conference will be Minister of Agriculture Cde Perrence Shiri, Finance and Economic Development minister Cde Mthuli Ncube, Industry and Commerce minister ,Cde Sekai Nzenza and FAO Assistant Director General Riberto Ridolfi.
The ZANU PF government recognizes that agriculture is one of the key priority sectors in achieving sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction and for the achievement of the country's Vision of becoming an upper middle income country by the year 2030.
As spelt out in the draft National Agriculture Policy Framework (NAPF), agriculture occupies a central place in the Zimbabwean economy for employment, incomes and poverty reduction.
Agriculture contributes 15 -18 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 23 percent to the total formal employment, and provides livelihoods to approximately 70 percent of the rural population (54 percent of which are women).
The sector also supplies about 63 percent of industrial raw materials with the share of agriculture in manufacturing value added at 60 percent, and the share in export earnings at 30 percent.
Agriculture-related employment supports a third of the formal labour force.
The restructured agricultural sector in Zimbabwe is creating new opportunities and challenges. However, frequent droughts plus limited resilience, inadequate resource for allocation to key drivers of agriculture growth, low production and productivity, limited number of, and access to existing markets, and limited access to finance among others have made it impossible to exploit the opportunities.
As a result, agricultural investment has sharply declined, negatively affecting agricultural productivity and overall production. In that regard, a relook and prioritization of the key drivers for sustainable agriculture and food system transformation has been made top agenda as the country approaches the 2019/20 agricultural season.