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.***

From handouts, Zimbabwe farmers target surplus harvest

From handouts, Zimbabwe farmers target surplus harvest

By Godfrey Marawanyika (AFP) – 16 hours ago

CHINAMHORA, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwean peasant farmer Munyaradzi Mudapakati gives 
a satisfied smile as he looks out at his lush maize crop, but he fears his 
good fortune will end if elections go ahead this year.

For more than a decade, most rural Zimbabweans have depended on food aid to 
survive, but good rains this season are promising an abundant 2011 
harvest — as long as politics doesn’t get in the way.

“This year thanks to the good rains I have plenty of food unlike the past 
three years,” said Mudapakati, a former plumber who took to farming after 
losing his job in 2007.

Mudapakati says he expects to harvest 2.5 tonnes of maize this year, up from 
less than one tonne last year, and says he could have done even better if he 
had enough fertiliser.

But he fears production could dip if President Robert Mugabe goes ahead with 
polls planned for later this year, as farmers would be forced to abandon 
their work and attend political rallies for Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF.

“I hope they shelve these elections,” Mudapakati said.

“The problem is that I will be picked up to go for campaigns since I operate 
from the roadside, which means I would lose a lot of time instead of doing 

Although he was spared from the violence that engulfed rural Zimbabwe during 
the last elections in 2008, Mudapakati said he saw villagers driven to rally 
venues and beaten up when they resisted.

The 40-year-old grows maize and tomatoes at a horticultural farm that was 
seized by government and parcelled out to small-scale farmers under Mugabe’s 
controversial land reform programme.

Launched in 2000, the programme has seen the seizure of nearly 4,000 
white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks, with disastrous 
effects on agricultural production.

The programme has combined with poor rains and shortages of seed and 
fertiliser to force a country once considered the breadbasket of the region 
to depend on food aid.

The crisis bottomed out in 2008, when nearly half Zimbabwe’s 12 million 
people needed food aid. The situation has been improving, but the United 
Nations has still appealed for $415 million (300 million euros) to feed 1.7 
million Zimbabweans this year until the harvest starts in May.

Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said Zimbabwe is likely to harvest enough 
maize to feed itself this year, the first time in a decade. The country 
needs an estimated 2.2 million of tonnes of maize a year.

“The country is looking forward to household food security and we should 
maintain this in the future,” Made told reporters.

But political instability may still threaten this resurgence.

Mugabe, 87, who has been in power since 1980, has called for elections to be held this year to end the power-sharing government he was forced to enter 
with long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai after the bloody and disputed vote of 

That year, hundreds of rural residents fled to the capital, Harare, seeking 
refuge after being beaten or intimidated during the campaign.

Labour economist Prosper Chitambira, too, warned that although no dates have been set for new elections, farmers and workers could lose precious time if they are forced to attend campaign rallies.

“In the event of elections some workers will be recruited to carry out 
campaigns on behalf of certain parties,” said Chitambira of the Harare-based 
Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe.

“Though impact on production might be minimal, there will be lost man-hours 
as people would be forced to campaign instead of working,” he added.

“Some people are also tired of elections as they know that beating or 
forcing people will not bring food on the table.”


New Posts:

From the archives

Posts from our archive you may find interesting