By Elita Chikwati
Government has warned absentee farmers that they risk losing their farms after an assessment on farms is completed in two months.
Speaking at the inaugural tobacco conference that was organised by Cardinal Chartered Accountants, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Davis Marapira said farmers should take farming as a serious business, and this included employing professional managers.
“When we allocated people land, you are all aware that we wanted the beneficiaries to be on the land or employ good managers who can deliver. But some farmers are either not on the land or they do not have good managers,” said Deputy Minister Marapira.
“We are going to visit farms in the next two months for assessment. Some farmers are always on the land and they produce good yields; for instance, four tonnes per hectare in tobacco.
“Farmers should perform and not always complain. Under the new dispensation, it is not business as usual,” he said.
Tobacco farmers, he said, should take farming seriously as agriculture was the mainstay of the economy, contributing significantly to both the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and providing employment to a large portion of the Zimbabwean population.
“Zimbabwe economy should start with a revival of the agricultural sector.
“Zimbabwe is blessed with good soils upon which a variety of crops can be grown, favourable climatic conditions, good infrastructure and a well-developed labour force.
“What is now required is to harness all these positive factors to spur the growth of the agricultural sector.
“However, it is critical that stakeholders in the agriculture sector come up with innovative ideas to mobilise funding for this critical sector.
“I am happy that at this juncture, international investors are warming up to Zimbabwe under the new dispensation. This will help in our endeavours, he said.
He applauded tobacco farmers for recording high yields during trying times.
“It is encouraging that tobacco has shown signs of recovery. However, there is still scope for growth to surpass the production levels of 200 million kilogrammes of the pre-2000 era.
“I would like to salute and congratulate all tobacco farmers for their resilience and contribution towards the growth in production against a myriad of challenges.”
Deputy Minister said Government was ready to provide an enabling environment for both farmers and other stakeholders through providing inputs and knowledge, among other things.
We have supplied farmers with machinery – 500 tractors from Belarus – and more than 500 tractors from India. We received 80 centre pivots from Spain and we expect 1 000 more centre pivots.
Deputy Minister Marapira said there was need to strengthen measures that cushion tobacco farmers from expensive inputs and unviable prices.
The conference was held under the theme “Harnessing the tobacco farming business for economic turnaround and economic growth”