The Sunday Mail
Zimbabwean farmers are now required to submit annual production reports, as Government moves to ensure maximum land utilisation and also to identify under-utilised farms, which will be repossessed for redistribution, a Cabinet Minister has said.
At the turn of the millennium, Zimbabwe embarked on an historic land reform program, which saw Government compulsorily acquire vast tracks of prime agricultural land from the minority white commercial farmers to resettle the previously landless black majority.
The exercise saw at least 300 000 black families resettled under the A1 (commercial) and A2 (small scale) models.
As an example of the individual economic transformation born out of the land reform program, the resettled indigenous farmers are now in full command of the US$1 billion tobacco industry as the main producers, a sector they were totally excluded from before the land reform exercise.
Tobacco is the country’s biggest single export.
The resettled farmers are also the main producers of most other vital crops, including the staple maize food.
But, despite the huge successes, some land remains severely under-utilised, a situation that prompted Government to conduct a land audit meant to downsize farms and to deal with multiple farm ownership.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka, said the directive was in line with the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy.
“Land has become a major economic enabler and agriculture has become a business. Land and agriculture, therefore, must cause accelerated economic activity for the attainment of Vision 2030.
“It is in this regard that the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development directed all A1 and A2 farmers to submit annual production and productivity forms by 15 February each year,” he said.
The forms are available on the Ministry website or can be obtained at AGRITEX offices countrywide.
Minister Masuka encouraged farmers who were not fully utilising their land to secure Joint Venture (JV) partnerships to increase utilisation.
He said Government had already approved a Joint Venture Agreement Framework, which allows investors to undertake farming operations, with all JVs being approved by the Ministry for them to be legally binding.
“A Joint Venture database, for the purpose of match-making available underutilised and unproductive land units with potential JV partners is being developed.
“Farmers are encouraged to register with their nearest AGRITEX Office. Potential JV partners are encouraged to register with the monitoring and evaluation unit of the Ministry,” he said.
“The Joint Ventures, which Government is encouraging, are aimed at increasing production and productivity on farms. In line with Government thrust to increase agricultural production and productivity, abandoned farms, derelict farms and under-utilised farms shall be liable for repossession and redistribution to deserving beneficiaries on the waiting list for land allocation.
“Holders of such land must consider JVs to quickly bring such land under production.” – New Ziana