ED warns unproductive land reform beneficiaries

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By Alois Vinga

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday issued a “chilling” warning to unproductive Zimbabweans holding large tracts of land acquired during the country’s controversial land reform programme by reminding them to be productive or risk losing it.

Addressing farmers at the inaugural Zimbabwe Agricultural Show in Harare Friday, Mnangagwa underscored that the whole idea of redistributing land was to achieve economic empowerment which must be visible through productivity.

“I exhort beneficiaries of the land reform to be farmers and not mere farm owners. The new agrarian revolution requires beneficiaries to give attention to improved productivity across all crops. Let us all rise to the responsibility of feeding the nation and meeting our dietary and nutritional needs as well as producing for export.

“The rationale behind our historic irreversible land reform programme was to empower the indigenous people with the greatest factor for production which is land. We must now therefore roll up our sleeves and assure maximum productivity,” Mnangagwa said.

Mnangagwa warned government in its quest to attain its vision of a middle class economy by 2030 the idea of idle land should be alien.

“Equally, our captains of industry and commerce must be productive by supporting agriculture and its attendant value chains. Under the second republic, there cannot be “them and us” mentality. Sustainable economic growth will take all of us working together, across all sectors,” the President said.

Mnangagwa said that agriculture remains the backbone of the country’s economy and is a key contributor to national economic development.

He also pleaded with producers of inputs including fertiliser and farming chemical manufacturers to avail the products at affordable prices ahead of the 2019/20 season.

“I exhort fertiliser manufacturers’ seed and chemical suppliers to equally guarantee the availability of their products at affordable prices. I challenge the various agriculture organisations to vigorously pursue win-win partnerships that will help grow, modernise and mechanise the sector,” he said.

The Zimbabwe Land Commission has been carrying out an audit of the country’s agricultural land to flush out multiple farm owners.

The commission’s initial findings have however revealed that the land was not distributed in line with laid down procedures while documents on the security of tenure are shambolic with most farmers sitting on land for speculative purposes.

Another 2016 performance report by Auditor-General, Mildred Chiri on the management of irrigation schemes showed that 56% of irrigable land is underutilised.