By Steve Ephraem
CHIPINGE: Manicaland Minister of State and Devolution Nokhuthula Matsikenyere has launched a new youth in Agriculture program in Chipinge.
Women have taken lead in a program that is designed to build capacity and empowerment.
Of the 120 young farmers who graduated at the course which was held at Checheche Shopping Complex, 70% of the graduate were women.
One of the graduates, Pretty Busangavanye who scooped the best female female cotton grower award, thanked the resident minister for coming up with such an initiative.
Pretty (19) established 2 ha of cotton under dryland at Matikwa in Chipinge South and is expecting 6 tonnes due to good rains as well as the variety of cotton she grew and the maintenance she gave to her crop.
In a speech read on her behalf by Member of Parliament for Chipinge South Hon Enock Porusingazi, Minister Matsikenyere indicated that the programme is aimed at uplifting the livelihood of youth through agriculture based business.
“The Agricultural sector continues to be the back-bone of the Zimbabwean economy, contributing between 16-20 percent of the GDP and 40 percent to exports. Our thrust is to transform lives for all the people in the province including areas like Chipinge, Chimanimani and Makoni.
“It is worth noting that youth in agriculture play a significant role in enhancing food and nutrition security by enhancing agricultural productivity. The Agricultural sector is considered strategic in terms of high employment opportunities since most production systems are labour intensive.
“I therefore challenge the youth in agriculture to take this as an opportunity and deliver since they are still energetic, skilled and innovative.
“The agricultural sector is dominated by many small-holder farmers usually youth with technical skills but lacking capital to finance production as the sector is capital intensive,” said Matsikenyere.
The agricultural sector in Zimbabwe has been not been performing very well for over a decade and half.
By 2005 agriculture exports were down to about US$72 million. In 2009, export value went further down to US$40 million and export was about US$39 million in 2010.