By Elita Chikwati
The Zimbabwe Land Commission (ZLC) has so far covered 57 000 farms in two phases of its national audit ending last month and might complete the exercise by year end, resources permitting, ZLC chairperson Commissioner Tendai Bare has said.
The audit seeks to inform Government’s existing and future agricultural policies and inspire the development of strategies to increase productivity and promote social equity and environmentally sustainable farming practices.
So far, the commission is mum on its findings, amid indications that a comprehensive report will be given at the end of the exercise.
There are expectations, though, that the exercise should shed light on ownership patterns, tenure, productivity and optimum sizes as it seeks to address issues arising from the fast-track Land Reform Programme that took place almost 20 years ago.
In an interview yesterday, Comm Bare said the commission had just completed the second phase of the land audit and, resources permitting, would enter the third and probably last phase, soon.
“We started (the second phase) sometime in July up to the 23rd of August. It took us around three weeks to cover all the farms that we did,” he said.
“We have continued with our work in the eight districts focusing on farms that were left out during the first phase.
“We covered around 38 000 farms and we have completed all the farms in each district that were outstanding.”
The first phase covered 18 000 farms, while the pilot project carried before the first phase covered over 1 140 farms.
The second phase covered 19 000 farms.
The third and probably final phase is expected to be launched soon, after which a comprehensive report on the findings will be submitted to Cabinet.
Government embarked on the land audit to analyse land allocation data and extent of land distribution with respect to gender, equity classification, environmental management, extent of multiple land ownership and double allocations.
The commission is expected to submit the report on the second phase to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement before embarking on the third phase.
Comm Bare said the audit was affected by economic challenges.
“The challenges we have faced are a result of the unstable economic environment characterised by cost escalation, non-availability of fuel and rising costs of hiring vehicles.
Government also carried the land audit to assess land use planning with respect to farm sizes, ecological and farming enterprises or activities and assess the extent of tenure security and land rights of beneficiaries.
The exercise is also meant to identify challenges and constraints to successfully address the agrarian reform agenda while it also helps Government to assess how farmers can be assisted to improve productivity, ensure food security and economic development.
Comm Bare said; “President Mnangagwa is on record stating that restructuring the economy is a top priority for Government. The ZLC has a huge role to play in bringing stability and conclusion to the land reform programme. This will allow farmers to focus on production and to bring vision 2030, as enunciated by the President, to reality.
“The commission is currently carrying out national land audits and also involved in resolving disputes that arise from land administration. These are some of the pre-cursors to improving agricultural production in the country.
“The successful conclusion to the land reform programme is central to stabilizing investment by farmers, both financially and in terms of time, in order to boost the country’s economic recovery.”