Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

$2 billion pumped into agriculture but abused by new farmers

$2 billion pumped into agriculture but abused by new farmers

By Tichaona Sibanda
24 February 2012

There are strong indications that many of the farmers who received land 
under the controversial land grab program, sold most of the free inputs they 
received from government.

This came to light following revelations by Finance Minister Tendai Biti 
that the country’s ‘underperforming’ farmers have received over $2 billion 
since the formation of the coalition government in 2009. This also showed 
that the claims by Robert Mugabe that Biti is deliberately starving newly 
resettled farmers, are not true.

Many of the farmers who received large tracts of land are politicians and 
include a number of senior ZANU PF officials. Many of Mugabe’s senior 
military commanders also received farms, forcibly taken off commercial 

Mugabe insists the land reform program was initiated to right the wrongs of 
the colonial era, when black farmers were forced off their land and forced 
into less fertile areas, while the best land was reserved for white farmers.

But the scheme has been widely blamed for destroying the country’s 
agriculture-based economy and turning the country into a net importer of 
food. Charles Taffs, the President of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), 
told SW Radio Africa on Friday that lack of accountability in the farming 
sector has contributed to the decline of production on the farms.

‘We are sitting on a country here which has a potential to be the jewel of 
Africa, yet we’re starving. And we are being held to ransom by a very few 
people,’ Taffs said.

He said it has been known for years that most of the farmers were getting 
free inputs and selling them off, often at half the retail price, killing 
off the supply sector.

‘There is no accountability at all, and my good guess is that the money is 
more than $2 billion. The whole structure of business has collapsed and the 
whole country suffered as a result,’ Taffs added.

Taffs’ predecessor at the CFU, Deon Theron, explained that most of the 
beneficiaries of the land were not farmers and that it was easier for them 
to sell inputs than produce anything.

‘Part of the bigger problem is most of the guys on the ground allocated land 
are not farmers but businessmen or politicians. It makes sense to them to 
sell it off (inputs) to other people, rather than try and produce and maybe 
make a loss.

‘If the inputs had gone into agriculture, you would have seen it in 
production figures. But current production figures confirm nothing has gone 
on the ground,’ Theron explained.

He said: ‘If I’m not a carpenter and you give me planks, what am I going to 
do with them. I would sell them.’

Analysts believe that the future of agriculture in Zimbabwe is closely bound 
to the country’s political stability, macroeconomic stability and 
maintenance of law and order, none of which currently exist.


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