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Gvt sets up youth agric incubators

The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development is setting up innovative agricultural incubators countrywide to equip the youth with requisite skills, a senior Government official has said.

President Mnangagwa is expected to launch the innovative Provincial Agricultural Youth Incubators next week.

Lands Minister Anxious Masuka said this while officiating at the 3rd National Young Farmer Champions Awards on Wednesday.

The awards were aimed at recognising young farmers who have chosen and excelled in the “production” part of the agricultural value chain.

“These incubators are aimed at orienting youth into the business of agriculture before placement on farms. This enables the youths to learn from these “business schools” so that they hit the ground running.

“The youths will also be exposed to all the other support services and support institutions in the agricultural ecosystem, from finance to agronomy, to marketing, among other issues. This is indeed an exciting phase of our agricultural transformation,” he said.

Minister Masuka said his Ministry crafted the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy in response to the President’s Vision 2030.

He said the Strategy had formed the basis input into the National Development Strategy 1.

“The youth are an important demographic for this country, much like any other country on the African continent. Harnessing this youth demography into development in general and agricultural development in particular, have been subjects of studious academic and practical enquiry.

“What is undeniable is that this segment of our population must be mainstreamed into the various economic activities urgently. Agriculture presents one such opportunity. But, unlike the Jambanja error when the focus was access to land, we must have a new thrust and a new mindset.

“This thrust and mindset must be anchored on seeking and exploiting entrepreneurial opportunities in agriculture. Youths should therefore perceive agriculture as a business. They then must carefully choose which part of the agricultural value chain they would like to participate in – from ideation, to research to production, to transport, to logistics, to marketing, to value addition and to services provision,” he said.

Minister Masuka applauded the youths for their contribution towards the growth of the agriculture sector.

The agriculture sector grew by a stellar 36.4 percent last year and assisted in powering the country’s estimated GDP growth of 7.8 percent.

Government has created an enabling environment for youth to thrive and prosper as businesswomen and businessmen in agriculture.

“Government created, in March 2020, and for the first time in the history of the land reform programme, a youth quarter in the allocation of land of at least 20 percent. So please take advantage of this new dispensation and access land.

“Government is refining the model for youth entry into agriculture so that it is based on a pre-screening exercise,” he said.

Minister Masuka said Government has also opened opportunities for non-collateral lending for agriculture through the National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme, and the recently launched Agricultural Finance Corporation Scheme.

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