The European Union is providing $8 million to help revive Zimbabwe’s ailing agriculture sector. Zimbabwe - once southern Africa's breadbasket - is still trying to revitalize its agriculture sector, which took a nosedive after President Robert Mugabe’s government embarked on a land reform program in 2000 that displaced thousands of white farmers.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization will administer the $8-million European Union donation to Zimbabwe announced Thursday.
The FAO says it hopes that this money will help Zimbabwe revive the devastated agricultural sector. Gaoju Han, the head of FAO in southern Africa, explained his agency’s plans for the donation.
"FAO is committed to the realization of the project results which are: improved access to essential farm inputs through the local market for livestock producers, improved agricultural productions based on sustainable agricultural practices in crop and livestock production, small-scale irrigation and environmental protection and improved income through surplus production sale and market linkages," said Han.
Such practices have not been in effect here for more than a decade because of President Mugabe’s controversial land reform program - which displaced almost all experienced white farmers from their land without compensation. They were replaced in many cases by supporters of Mr. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party. Few, if any, had the skill or knowledge base for farming. Perennial food shortages have become the norm in a country that was once a huge food exporter.
At the signing ceremony in Harare Thursday, Seiso Moyo, Zimbabwe’s junior agriculture minister said the EU donation would begin to revive the country's ailing economy.
“Considering that agriculture is the mainstay of the country’s economy, this signing ceremony is a positive and pivotal development to national economic growth, since nearly 70 percent of the population of Zimbabwe live in rural areas and derive their livelihoods mainly from farming," said Moyo.
It is the rural farmers that FAO will equip with skills, seeds, and fertilizer to revive Zimbabwean agriculture.
At the moment, many Zimbabweans depend on handouts to meet their basic food needs. The United Nations estimates that at least 1.5 million people need food aid in Zimbabwe.