Despite the major shifts in climatic conditions, agriculture remains the backbone of the Zimbabwean economy with the sector being mostly rain-fed. The majority of the rural populace in the country derive their livelihoods from agriculture and other related rural economic activities. It is against this background that the government introduced initiatives including the Command Agriculture Scheme of 2016, which is a government programme designed to promote food security through domestic agricultural production. Nevertheless, the initiative has been received with mixed feelings by different sectors of the Zimbabwean community.
In pursuit of Vision 2030, the government embraced the neo-liberal economic ideology underpinned by austerity measures which have since come into effect through the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), the 2019 National Budget and the Monetary Policy Statement. The TSP is driven by liberalisation strategies aimed at economic growth rather than sustainable development and this has serious implications on agriculture. It is against this background that the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) convened the National Policy Dialogue Meeting on the Agricultural Policy Direction under the Economy in Transition Series on 25 April 2019 to advocate for pro-poor agricultural policies through dialogue between policy makers and rural women smallholder farmers. Amongst the policy makers were representatives from the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Settlement; Budget, Finance and Economic Development; Local Government, Urban and Rural Development; and Gender and Development; Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development; Grain Marketing Board; Agricultural Marketing Authority and Agricultural Technical Extension Officers. The meeting came at the most relevant time when women smallholder farmers need to know the future of the agriculture sector so that they are well positioned to be able to stand and defend their livelihoods amid the promotion of private players in the agricultural sector.
The Agreed Action Plan
The rural women smallholder farmers and the policy makers agreed on the following:
The rural smallholder farmers to petition the Parliament of Zimbabwe on the following:
- The displacement of Checheche rural smallholder farmers by Chipinge Rural District Council to pave way for the development of Checheche Growth Point;
- The displacement of rural smallholder farmers in Chisumbanje by Green Fuel;
- The displacement of rural smallholder farmers in Chemagora, Gokwe, by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Settlement; and
- The urbanisation of rural farming communities that have reduced arable land affecting their livelihoods.
- Creating a platform for farmers and miners interface to resolve the prevalent farmer-miner conflict which has resulted in preventable deaths.
Source: Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD)