Land ensures prosperity to many


DRIVING around farms in Zimbabwe, one can quickly acknowledge that Zimbabwe’s land reform programme was a triumph and that the country’s future in agriculture is immensely bright, reversing a decade-long contraction by Western journalists that it was an economic failure. There is a lot of activity happening on the farms recently visited by The Patriot. Peter Chanhuhwa, a farmer at Broadacres in Karoi, said appropriate use of land had transformed their lives. The proud Zimbabwean farmer boasts 20 head of cattle, 80 goats, a vehicle, grinding mill and employs at least seven workers. He intends to drill a borehole in order to ensure that his piggery project becomes a success as there was need for readily accessible water. Another farmer, Hebert Mhaka, of Hunter’s Lodge farm, said: “We are happier here at the resettlement, there is more land, plots are larger and there is no overcrowding. “Last season, I got very good yields and I am now into poultry and also planning to do dairy farming too.” The 24-year-old young farmer said it was gratifying that the country’s leaders always prioritised empowering the black majority from the days of the liberation struggle. Others said they were much better farming than having whitecollar jobs. Most of the farmers interviewed were doing well, reaping good harvests and re-investing the profits despite experiencing some challenges. “Following resettlement, there is now a future for my family as farming has become my only source of income,” said one new farmer who refused to be named. Gibson Gudo from Macheke was also doing remarkably well and urged those shunning farming activities to embrace Government’s empowerment initiatives. “I do not regret my decision to get into farming and to my fellow countrymen who are shunning farming, let me warn you and say make hay while the sun shines for that is not possible when it rains,” he said. Aleck Mudyandakarima said he had “little land to farm” prior to resettlement and once relied on his relatives in order to survive. Together with his wife, they managed to clear four hectares on their new farm. “Before I had absolutely nothing besides my two pigeons, but now I own seven cattle, two goats and have also managed to buy a plough and a water cart through farming,” said Mudyandakarima. “The new land has transformed our lives and we hope the future is bright, you know farming is not a one-time thing, but a process.” Zimbabwe’s agriculture sector has over the years shown huge potential to grow and there is a clear indication that production on the farms is steadily increasing and improving. Even those who have no farming experience are eager to learn fast. The extraordinary resilience, and their willingness to experiment and innovate is also clear-, even under difficult circumstances. The land reform programme was based on poverty alleviation and though not everyone has done immensely well, the majority of resettled farmers have experienced real change in their lives. Fast-track land reform redistributed much of the commercial farmland to some 170 000 families. Whatever its faults in execution, the process has undeniably created a significantly more equitable distribution of land than what prevailed before. Historically, the success of any land reform effort depends on the support new farmers are given.


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