99-year leases will make agriculture vibrant

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THE Land Reform and Resettlement Programme in Zimbabwe brings many issues to the fore.
It also provokes many questions that can only be answered by tackling what the programme was all about and what it intended to achieve.
Was the programme about empowerment?
It was, and today individuals and families are empowered.
Was it meant to correct historical imbalances?
It was, and the imbalances are being eradicated with both the young and old of all races having access to productive land.
Was it designed to create sustainable development?
It was, and today many businesses are directly supported by the land.
There are far too many questions that can be added to those raised above.
But the simple answer is that this is a noble programme that has transformed lives and most importantly it can and shall continue to be made better.
In the past few days, there has been debate on availing of 99-year leases to all our farmers.
Clearly there are some who would want certain farmers to have the leases while others are excluded.
But it has been made clear that in the new dispensation, we just have farmers, period — no green or grey farmer, just farmers.
The master plan of Government is inclusive; no one will be left out in the development agenda.
And the 99-year leases will definitely ramp up production.
Security of tenure is critical to sustainable development.
It is common knowledge that proper planning prevents poor performance and security of tenure enables our farmers to properly plan their activities.
The leases must spur us to deliver.
Government has made it clear that partnerships and joint ventures are welcome as long as they do not violate the country’s laws.
What this means is that our land must be farmed and become fruitful.
Ours is fertile land.
We have one of the largest water bodies on the continent.
In terms of expertise, we rank among the best.
As hinted elsewhere in the paper, agriculture alone can support the economy.
We do not do genetically modified crops and animals.
Our farming is largely organic.
All the above means our produce will be on high demand on the international market.
With clarity on the issue of tenure, our farmers can now access financing from lending institutions.
Without doubt, farming is not about just owning land.
It is about turning the asset into viable business entities that generate the much needed foreign currency for the country.
Let us have all our farmers on the land minding the land, superintending operations.
Let us say goodbye to the days of cellphone farming.
No longer shall we be obsessed by the colour of who is farming on the land, let us see all our farmers collaborating, sharing notes and assisting each other to ramp up production.
All we care about is production and more production.
Every part of the country has productive land.
With all our hands to the plough, in a decade or so our nation will be transformed.
Our agriculture has just been made more viable.
Let us not waste the opportunities presented us.

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