COMMERCIAL Farmers Union of Zimbabwe (CFU) has said that the country’s new 99-year lease document is voluminous about three times the length of Zambia’s equivalent, making it difficult to attract interest from former commercial farmers, who fled Zimbabwe during the fast track land reform.
CFU director Purcell Gilpin yesterday told delegates at the national consultative dialogue workshop that the new 99-year lease document will not enjoy a wholesale take up, but endure continued debate thereby foiling government’s thrust to entice the farmers who fled to Zambia.
BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
“In this context, it is worth noting that around 450 former Zimbabwean farmers moved to Zambia since 2000, and with the provisions of that lease — which is market driven and transferable they have contributed significantly to agricultural sector growth and development,” he said.
With the influx of former Zimbabwean farmers to Zambia the country’s agricultural sector experienced a boom such that during the El Nino-induced drought in 2016, Zimbabwe imported most of its grain from that country.
Gilpin said efforts to encourage the commercial farmers to return to Zimbabwe would not happen “if the rights enjoyed by farmers here are not at least equivalent to those in Zambia or elsewhere”.
He said the current administration should concentrate, not on allocating land but on providing secure, tradable, enforceable land rights that encourage genuine skilled farmers to work for economic growth.
Delivering the 2018 monetary policy statement earlier this month, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya said banks would now accept 99-year leases as security.
Agriculture contributes 15% to 18% of the gross domestic product down from an average contribution of between 20% and 30% before 2010.
Real Estate Institute of Zimbabwe vice president Alexander Millin said real estate practitioner should play a more active role in crafting of and administration of an agreed land tenure and land policy framework.