PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa says he has directed Minister of lands, agriculture, fisheries, water and rural resettlement Dr Anxious Masuka, to identify 500 hectares of agriculture land in each province to be given to youths who are interested in farming.
At a time when the country is battling to create employment opportunities for the thousands of youths churned out of the country’s tertiary and vocational institutions, agriculture and its value chains has been identified as one of the sectors that could create thousands of jobs for youths.
Youths who constitute the bulk of the Zimbabwean population have in recent years shown a growing appetite to venture into the agriculture sector. Youths remain largely marginalized in terms of participation in agriculture production with the Ministry of Agriculture estimating that the average farmer in the country is 55 years.
Additionally, access to land is a hindrance to most youths venturing into agriculture but according to President Mnangagwa this is going to change as youths will now get priority in the allocation of underutilized and repossessed farms.
Addressing delegates at the official launch of the cattle ranching joint venture between Zimplats and Palmline holdings President Mnangagwa reiterated his administration’s commitment to allocate underutilized land to youths.
“Youths, the Minister of Agriculture, came to me with your plea to be given land. I directed him to find this year 500 hectares of land in each province to be given to youths. We shall support these youths with the necessary inputs and machinery required for them to be successful. We have now realized our youth are interested in agriculture and we will support them”.
Recently In a letter in response to the governing ZANU PF acting secretary for Youth Affairs Tendai Chirau,Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka, said his ministry had urged youths to approach their provincial and district office to enquire about available land.
“You are advised that the Ministry has already complied with the directive to prioritise Youth in land allocation. In this regard, you are advised to approach Provinces and Districts where land is allocated”.
Minister Masuka also urged youths to consider joint ventures in agriculture enterprise without owing land.
“Moreover you should also note that the Youth can also enter into Joint Ventures for successful agricultural enterprises without necessarily owning land”.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) agriculture will play a significant role in ensuring Zimbabwe harnesses its demographic dividend by ensuring that youths exploit opportunities in the sector and its value chains.
The demographic dividend refers to the temporary to the temporary economic benefit that can arise from a significant increase in the ratio of working age adults relative to young dependents that result from fertility decline- if this change is accompanied by sustained investments in education and skills development, health, job creation and good governance.