CALLS to repossess land from farmers who are under-utilising it have intensified with Mashonaland Central Senator Martha Muronzi (Zanu PF) suggesting that a commission be set up to chuck out non-performing farmers.
BY STAFF REPORTER
This comes amid reports that the country’s food situation is currently dire with about 248 000 metric tonnes of maize left in the country for both livestock and human consumption, a figure which includes the Grain Marketing Board’s strategic grain reserves of 152 000 metric tonnes.
Muronzi, while contributing to a motion on the declining socio-economic conditions in the country, said the under-performing farmers were making a mockery of President Robert Mugabe and First Lady Grace, who always encouraged full utilisation of land.
“I have realised that people who were allocated land on commercial farms cannot fully utilise it, and when we talk about this let us not be political or point fingers,” Muronzi said.
“I recommend that the government sets up a commission which will go around farming areas to check on who is utilising the land to best capacity and who is not doing well on the farm. The poor farmer should be removed from the land and substituted by a capable farmer who will be able to feed the nation.”
She suggested that farmers found to be incompetent should be re-allocated land in rural areas.
“I was in Macheke and I realised that there is a lot of land occupied by farmers who lack the necessary machinery and they are using draught power, which is oxen or donkeys. They cannot go far if they use such methods, and in this respect government should assist farmers and encourage the use of machinery in farming,” the senator said.
Her proposals also came amid media reports that Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development deputy minister (cropping) Davis Marapira this week warned beneficiaries of the land reform programme against selling irrigation equipment availed to them by the government.
He was said to have disclosed that some of the beneficiaries were “cannibalising” the irrigation equipment and selling it.
“We are in the process of investigating these culprits and we will prosecute them through the Lands and Rural Resettlement ministry,” Marapira was quoted by the State broadcaster.
In September, Minister of State for Manicaland Province Mandi Chimene also threatened to cut the farm sizes of those who were failing to utilise their vast pieces of land in view of the overwhelming list of people in need of land.