Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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$15 000 Command wheat up in smoke

$15 000 Command wheat up in smoke

Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
A Command Agriculture wheat crop worth an estimated $15 000 was last week razed by fire, suspected to have been started by illegal settlers, who are angling to take over Amalinda Farm in Murombedzi, Mashonaland West Province, for residential land development. On Monday night, the same crop was nearly wiped out after a veld fire, which started around 8pm in the evening, spread to the crop.

The farm owner, Mr Emmanuel Mangisi, was assisted by workers and some neighbours to douse the raging fire. Mr Mangisi said the illegal settlers had earlier ordered him to remove his crop and vacate the farm as they wanted to settle there. “The settlers do not have any documents that support their ownership, but they have since started pegging their stands,” he said. According to Amalinda Farm manager Mr Charles Chinyama, the invaders came to the farm two weeks ago and started pegging residential stands for themselves.

They erected a flag, which was, however, removed by Mangisi’s neighbour, Mr Llyod Chivandire, whose farm is also being invaded. “The settlers started harassing workers and beating them up for removing the flag. We reported the matter to police. Farm workers are no longer safe and are afraid of being attacked by the settlers. I was staying on the farm, but (I) now have since relocated because of the continuous threats from the settlers,” he said.

Mr Chinyama said the wheat was set on fire on Wednesday, destroying 3,5 hectares. “The wheat was produced under Command Agriculture. We were expecting around eight tonnes per hectare. We had prepared fireguards to protect our crop from veld fire. But this fire was started in the field and it could have gone out of control. “We are in the process of harvesting our crop. The wheat is now dry and there are fears if the incident recurs, it can wipe out the whole crop,” he said.

Mr Chivandire said this was not the first time that the settlers have come to the farm. “They always come, especially when we are going towards elections. We have reported to Marimba Police, but the case is treated as political. “The illegal settlers do not have any documents to support their occupation and they have the support of the Ward 35 councillor, Luke Gomo. The settlers argue that they are from the area and should be the ones farming on the land,” he said. Councillor Gomo confirmed the current conflicts at Amalinda Farm.

He said the farm was being targeted by people from the area and A1 farmers that wanted to expand their own farms. “The A1 farmers are the ones who occupied the farm during the fast-track exercise, but were given small plots of about three hectares each, while Mr Chivandire was given an A2 farm because he works in the Ministry of Lands. These A1 farmers are not happy that they were given small plots when they should be ones given the A2 farm. There have been conflicts and last Wednesday the issue resurfaced after Chivandire and Mangisi were told to remove their inputs from the warehouse to make way for a class for pupils at a nearby school.

“They refused to cooperate and in the evening, we heard that wheat crop had been burnt. We do not know who burnt the crop,” he said. Councillor Gomo accused officials from the Ministry of failing to settle the land dispute. He accused Chivandire of hiring bouncers to harass the A1 farmers.

“Chivandire hired bouncers to intimidate the youths. The bouncers shot and injured one of the farmers’ sons,” he said. Land disputes have been affecting many local farming areas. Government has established the Zimbabwe Land Commission to ensure accountability, fairness and transparency in the administration of agricultural land, conduct periodic agriculture land audits, investigate and resolve disputes and make recommendations to Government on land administration.


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