Utilise land, ED tells farmers

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PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has implored beneficiaries of the land reform programme to fully utilise their farms to boost productivity for local consumption and export.

He urged the farmers to be more serious and work hard to adequately feed the nation and meet all the dietary and nutritional needs.

Officially opening the inaugural Zimbabwe Agricultural Show in Harare on Friday, the President said farmers must prove to be real producers than being mere “farm owners”.

“I exhort beneficiaries of the land reform to be farmers, not mere farm owners,” he said. “The new agrarian revolution requires beneficiaries to give due attention to improving 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 production.”

For Zimbabwe to attain Vision 2023, the President said, those in the agricultural sector must work harder.

“To attain Vision 2030, we cannot afford to have idle, unproductive or underutilised farms,” said President Mnangagwa. “Equally, captains of industry and commerce must be pro-active by supporting agriculture and its attendant value chains.”

Farmers under Command Agriculture, President Mnangagwa said, will continue getting inputs in time.

He said Government will play its part and render the necessary support to boost productivity.

“As we prepare for the 2019/2020 agricultural season, my Government has availed resources for a successful season ahead,” he said.

“Farmers under Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Scheme programmes will continue to receive timely support from Government. I exhort fertiliser manufacturers, seed and chemical suppliers to equally guarantee availability of their products, at affordable prices.”

President Mnangagwa said Government will also continue to put in place a conducive economic and policy environment for the success of all investments.

He called on players in the farming sector to facilitate the use of innovative solution to increase productivity.

In 2014, the High Court issued a landmark judgment stating that offer letters should be withdrawn from those underutilising farms under the land reform programme.

Justice Nicholas Mathonsi, while he was still at the High Court, said the under-performers should lose land to pave way for more deserving farmers.

He made the remarks while confirming the withdrawal of an offer letter from Mutare businessman Mr Fungai Chaeruka, and the subsequent reallocation of the same land to the former owner, Ms Heather Guild.

Mr Chaeruka lost the land after it came to the authorities’ attention that he was underutilising 498 hectares of Lot 5, Mazonwe Farm in Mutare.

The court heard that Mr Chaeruka was practising horticulture on less than one hectare, leaving more than 497ha idle.

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