By Reason Razao
AGRICULTURE Minister, Anxious Masuka, has called on farmers under-utilising land to consider joint ventures with investors or risk revocation of offer letters.
Masuka, who was commenting on agricultural output for the coming 2023 season, said his ministry had created a Joint Venture Unit, which will soon be equipped with a database of farmers who are failing to maximise their production and investors willing to assist.
“The ministry is encouraging joint ventures, so if you think you do not have the capacity to farm, Zimbabwe wants production on your farm, so find someone who is able to assist you to farm,” Masuka said.
“The ministry has established a Joint Venture Unit and we have developed a template for an agreement between a farmer and someone who has capacity to farm.
“We are also creating a database of farmers who have offer letters, but who are not fully utilising their land and creating another database of those people who do not have land but have the capacity to farm.
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“So that we can do the matching of the farmer who has the land but not sufficiently utilising it and the investor who has the investment and finance, but has no land so that this government does not resort to saying each time we come to your farm, you are not productive, we withdraw your offer letter and give it to someone,” he added.
Masuka said the template of the joint venture agreement was available on the ministry’s website.
Zimbabwe was an emerging agricultural giant, according Masuka, and farmers should also capitalise on initiatives provided by the recently reestablished Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC).
“The Agricultural Finance Corporation has been reestablished to provide financing through the land and development bank.
“But also because we realised that one of the issues is capacity at a farm level, you might not have the capacity to purchase a tractor at farm level and we have given AFC initially 210 tractors.
“Three weeks ago, we gave them an additional 400 tractors so that they can assist farmers with tillage operations this season,” said Masuka.
AFC currently has 46 combine harvesters and Masuka said the government would soon be adding more equipment.
“We will add more, we think if AFC is leasing 1,500 tractors at any given time it means no farmer can fail to plant on time saying they have failed to receive adequate tillage,” he said.