AFRICANGLOBE – The farm occupations gave birth to what is commonly called the land reform programme, which is a revolution designed to correct land imbalances where a few white commercial farmers possessed the bulk of the prime agricultural land while the majority of Zimbabweans languished on marginal land.
Zimbabweans celebrated when Government undertook to reclaim land from the nearly 4,000 white commercial farmers for allocation to the majority of people. The feeling was the same with that experienced by Zimbabweans upon attaining independence from colonial rule. Indeed, today the majority of people are proud owners of some of the best farming land and those who have taken farming as a business have been able to make a decent living off the farms.
As an empowerment tool, land reform has transformed the lives of many people and in the process shamed detractors who had predicted that it would result in massive slump in crop production.
Instead, over a couple of years we have witnessed massive growth in maize production while the tobacco sector, which had experienced dwindling fortunes, is on the rebound. Everything seems to be going very well on the farms, so we thought, until reports that there are some A2 farmers who are fighting the revolution by renting out land to white former commercial farmers emerged.
We have seen an influx of white farmers back on the farms on the pretext of contract farming. At first we were not worried because we thought if we adopted the Brazilian model of tobacco production where over 800 million kg of tobacco is produced under contract, then we were on course to transforming the sector in particular and agriculture in general. But from what is obtaining on the ground, contract farming has allowed the return of white former commercial farmers to the same farms that we reclaimed and this is cause for concern. There are number of farmers who are renting out land to the white farmers under the guise of contract farming, yet the truth is that they have given away the land to the whites.
We believe that if our farmers have failed to productively use the land, the most reasonable thing to do is to give it back to the State for allocation to others in need of land than to rent it out to white former commercial farmers. It is very clear that all the farmers who have got into bed with white former commercial farmers are failures who do not deserve to continue holding onto the land.
There is no excuse whatsoever for renting out land to the whites. If the land is too big for the farmers then Government must immediately step in to either reduce the farm size or take the land away from such farmers. The Government must not be blamed for the failures of some A2 farmers as it is common knowledge that in 2004 and the subsequent years, it introduced an inputs scheme which was administered through the Grain Marketing Board.
Under the scheme A2 farmers were given fertilisers, seed, chemicals, herbicides and fuel. Those who put the inputs to good use have been able to stand on their own while those who abused them by selling them on the illegal black market have now found the going tough and have resorted to going to bed with white farmers. Shame!
One would never have thought that with the hatred that Zimbabweans showed the white farmers for occupying and resisting eviction from the farms, any sane A2 farmer would have the courage to rent out the land to white former commercial farmers again.
This needs to be stopped with haste. Zimbabwe’s future is bright and it will soon regain its breadbasket status. We will not have this scuttled by some farmers who are parcelling out land to the white farmers when we have so many Black Zimbabweans eager to use the land productively.