Fungi Kwaramba, Harare Bureau
Zimbabweans must respect each other and work in unity towards achieving Vision 2030, President Mnangagwa said yesterday as he toured agricultural development spearheaded by the Zion Christian Church in Bikita.

Agriculture was a keystone of development, and measures being taken by Government and all Zimbabweans to boost productivity should see food imports being unnecessary within two years.

The President was touring a thriving wheat farm owned by Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi, a Pfubvudza farming programme run by the church, and a dam under construction to provide water for irrigation.

But the achievements can only be attained through unity of purpose among Zimbabweans.

“In the next two years Zimbabwe should not import food. Everything else follows when people are not hungry. Let’s unite and respect each other. I know that bad things are easy to do but let us strive to do good always. Usati wadongorera ndima yemumwe tanga wasimudza yako (Before you look at someone’s crop tend yours first). The solution lies in farming.

“This is what even the Lord expects from us. Let us use this land, so that we don’t go hungry. Slowly we are overcoming problems that beset us in the past.”

Since taking office, President Mnangagwa has introduced a raft of economic measures that will be underpinned by agricultural production and productivity, mining and tourism.

His Vision 2030, to make Zimbabwe a middle income economy within a decade, is already bearing fruit as demonstrated in increased power supplies as well as his international reengagement thrust, with repeated and sponsored attempts by those in the opposition to peddle falsehoods through social media platforms having little effect.

The President, who turned 78 on Tuesday, was welcomed with “Happy Birthday” from the famous ZCC brass band. He danced to the Jerusalema dance challenge as he and Bishop Mutendi, who was also born on September 15, were given the full treatment from the congregants.

The Mbungo Agriculture Scheme that was launched by the President yesterday encompasses, production, value addition through processing of wheat and marketing with benefits accruing to local communities.

The ZCC scheme, which is climate proofed, both in form of irrigation and also the widely popular Pfubvudza farming initiative, has seen the semi-barren region of Bikita having green belts that dovetail with the country’s Vision to become a US$8.2 billion agriculture economy by 2025.

“This is the first year we have seen wheat in this area. We want value chain, value addition. The wheat is processed here to flour and it is then marketed. This is production, value addition and then marketing,” said the President.

Most of the workers, including engineers, were spotting the famous ZCC green badge as the church leads in implementating President Mnangagwa’s vision in this community.

“This is our country. We have to use our God-given resources, the land, our talents. We were given this land, the animals and everything in it. We must feed ourselves because when people are well fed they can then pursue various professions. This is why Government is coming to you.”

The President, who while Vice President in 2016 introduced Command Agriculture, said his Government has now adopted the Pfubvudza farming initiative for smallholders, families that may not have draught power.

He said while mechanised farmers, who once benefitted under Command Agriculture, will access loans from CBZ and Agribank, farmers with draught power will benefit from the Presidential Inputs Scheme, just as would farmers under Pfubvudza.

Over 1.8 million households are set to benefit from the Presidential Inputs Scheme, with inputs this year being distributed early and with a promising agricultural season predicted. But even with low rainfall, farmers will be climate proofed under both the Pfubvudza Scheme and also irrigation systems.

Quoting from the Bible the President said black people of Zimbabwe should claim their spaces and claim their birthright.

“You invited me here to show me the solution to life which is production. Bishop Mutendi said a hungry man is an angry man, and I was thinking while I was sitting there that if a person is made to choose between wearing a suit and being hungry, or being without a suit but with a full stomach, one would choose the latter. However one has to sweat for his food. I prefer to go where there is a solution instead of where there are question marks,” said the President.

On Covid-19, that has slowed economic recovery, the President said he took the decision to lockdown the nation so as to save precious lives of Zimbabweans.

In line with the Covid-19 regulations, people at the majestic ZCC headquarters, a religious tourism attraction in its own right, observed social distancing, wore face masks and were sanitised upon entry. “When Covid-19 came, we introduced a raft of measures so as to save lives. For the past seven or eight months we have been observing a lockdown. I believe that by now everyone knows about the measures that Government is taking so we have been relaxing the measures. A couple of days ago we announced that buses will start to travel intercity. We believe that people now know what to do,” the President said.

As the country sees far lower infection rates, the province of Masvingo has witnessed a 98 percent recovery rate something that is almost similar to most parts of the country because of a swift response that was taken by the Second Republic to curb the spread of the infection at the start.

The President was accompanied by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and Vice President Kembo Mohadi, and several Cabinet ministers.