The Sunday Mail
Deputy News Editor
Government is expected to conclude the national land audit exercise next month paving way for informed policies that will unlock more value from agriculture.
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement deputy minister Douglas Karoro said the land audit would usher new beneficiaries to all unproductive farms.
The deputy minister was responding to a question on land imbalances raised in the National Assembly last week.
He said there would be no discrimination in the re-allocation of ‘idle’ land.
Government last year tasked the Zimbabwe Land Commission on a comprehensive probe on land use patterns in a bid to influence policies that would stimulate increased agricultural activity, alleviate poverty and ensure sustainable utilisation of the resource.
The probe team has covered almost all provinces unearthing several cases of underutilisation of farm land.
Deputy minister Karoro told legislators that the findings of the land commission would guide Government’s future direction on the use of the resource and the country’s agricultural sector.
“Government wants to see a situation whereby there is fairness in land ownership,” he said.
“I will give an example of what is currently obtaining in our ministry. There is a land audit that is currently underway, we expect to get the finalisation of the exercise by end of March.
“The land commission will play a critical role in deciding what has to be done to the land which is going to be identified.
“Currently, we have people who own land, but they are not fully utilising that land.
“We have people who have been offered land, but they are not in the country.
“Government may come up with two scenarios. The first scenario is that Government is going to keep that land as State land for future development programmes (and) the other option is that Government may decide to distribute this land to landless people.”
Deputy minister Karoro said it was Government policy to ensure fair distribution of resources.
He said all prospective land seekers should demonstrate ability to put the farms into good use.
“The redistribution (of identified land) is not going to look at the colour of the farmer,” said deputy minister Karoro.
“It is not going to look at the political inclination of an individual neither is it going to look at the religious affiliation of the farmer.
“A farmer is going to be looked at as a farmer who has capacity and competence. The essence is that we want to produce enough food for everybody as a country and surplus for export.”
The land commission got to business mid last year targeting to conclude its exercise by the end of 2018.
However, the team missed the target because of shortage in operating resources.
The audit is being extended to old resettlement schemes, A1 villages, A1 self-contained, A2 small, medium and large-scale commercial farms, small-scale commercial farms, commercial farm settlement schemes and commercial agricultural plots.
The exercise is an evaluation and monitoring tool to be used every five years to check on agricultural land status and plan support and investments in the sector.
Government has directed its policies towards attainment of an upper middle income economy by 2030 with agriculture being singled as one of the economic stimulants.
The focus is for Government to unlock value for both beneficiaries and the nation with meaningful contribution to the GDP and per capita incomes
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has since expressed concern on the current low land utilisation trends emphasising adoption of mechanisation and modern farming techniques.