There is need to finalise the fast-track land reform exercise by issuing securitised long leases that enable farmers to access loans and give land value, Finance minister Tendai Biti said.
Between 2009 and 2011, the inclusive government together with international partners and private financiers have committed a total of $1,9 billion into the agricultural sector.
Budget support on its own has totalled $552 million.
Speaking at the launch of a $75 million input support scheme last week, Biti said it was critical that the government continued to provide a macro-economic framework that ensures agriculture reproduced itself.
“Wherever I have gone, farmers are crying over the lack of collateral. I am pleased that the Attorney-General (Johannes Tomana) has completed the work,” said Biti.
“It’s important that there be security of tenure. The fact of the matter is that farming is a business and farmers should have a business model. Nowhere in the world does government support agriculture entirely. What government can do is come up with subsidies here and there.
“Security of tenure also makes the farmer happy. A farmer cannot make a $200 000 investment if he/she doesn’t have security of tenure through long leases. The long leases will result in the return of a land market in Zimbabwe. If you can’t trade land it becomes dead capital. So far our farms have use value, but no exchange value.”
Biti said there was also need to complete a land audit and “define the judicial framework governing property rights and in particular the restoration of the land market through a judiciary enforceable title”.
The Finance minister said government finance alone does not deal with the problems of agriculture hence the need to deal decisively with problems which lead to inefficient spending and wastages in agriculture.
He challenged seed houses to invest more in creative hybrids that could withstand challenges brought about by global warming and climate change.
Biti said the development of human capital, infrastructure, biological capital and research on issues such as climate change as well as strengthening use of technology such as ICT and establishing reliable and consistent private sector models of financing agriculture, would be critical for successful agriculture in the country.