Government will set aside $1,67 billion towards drought mitigation measures as the country readies for the 2019/20 farming season.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, revealed this when he presented the 2019 Mid-Term Policy Review Statement and a Rtgs$10,85 billion supplementary budget in Parliament Thursday.
The budget was presented under the theme “Building a Strong Foundation for Future Prosperity”.
Minister Ncube said despite an increase in the planted area during the 2018/19 farming season, the country had witnessed decreased output for most crops due to an El Nino induced drought as well as the devastating Cyclone Idai disaster.
The adverse weather conditions will also see the Agriculture sector growth contracting by 15, 8 percent, he said.
In view of this and in a bid to stimulate growth as well as guaranteeing food security, Government will set aside $1,67 billion towards support of strategic crops of grain, soya beans and cotton.
While moving in to secure the sector in the short term, Government will also continue to put in place measures that will encourage the private sector to play a more prominent role in providing support in line with the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) which emphasises the need for private sector led economic revival.
“Agriculture growth is expected to contract by 15,8 percent in view of unfavourable 2018/19 weather conditions, exacerbated by the occurrence of Cyclone Idai, which destroyed crops, livestock, agricultural and other critical infrastructure in some parts of the country,” said Minister Ncube.
“Output for most crops was, therefore, depressed despite an increase in the planted area. Similarly, livestock production is expected to be subdued owing to disease outbreaks and drought-induced poor pastures across most of the country.
“Cognisant of the prevailing severe drought and the need to revive the agriculture sector, Government will extend support towards the agriculture sector during the 2019/20 agriculture season, while nurturing the private sector to play a greater role in subsequent years.
“As a result, the 2019 Mid-Term Review is setting aside $1,67 billion towards support of strategic crops of grain, soya beans and cotton,” he said.
The intervention will be anchored on six critical areas which are the Vulnerable Households Input Support Scheme, Cotton Inputs, Domestic Grain Mobilisation, Special Maize and Soya Bean Programmes, Domestic Grain Mobilisation and Grain Importation.
Under the Vulnerable Households Input Support Scheme Government commits support to households through an appropriate inputs scheme with a supplementary budget of $437 million while $213 million is being set aside towards inputs for cotton farming.
With the 2018/19 season expected to yield just about 852 000 tonnes, about half of the annual national requirements of about 1,8 million tonnes for human consumption, Government will therefore provide $630 million for local grain purchases and logistics while a further $624 million will go towards grain imports.
The country’s economy is agro-based and support for the agriculture will go a long way in supporting the food manufacturing industry.