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.***

Policy failures render Zim a basket case

Policy failures render Zim a basket case

Thursday, 17 May 2012 16:58

Herbert Moyo

ZIMBABWE’S growing reliance on food imports, particularly from regional 
countries such as Zambia and Malawi, is testimony to the country’s general 
regression over the years blamed on the government’s policy failures by 
players within the agricultural sector, the mainstay of the economy.
The country should have by now cemented its erstwhile status as the region’s 
breadbasket given the high levels of investment in agriculture and related 
industries the Zanu PF government inherited at Independence in 1980.

The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) says Zimbabwe’s agricultural decline was 
triggered by the controversial land reform programme from 2000 when the 
government expropriated land from the country’s mainly white commercial 

“Whilst few have argued about the necessity for land reform in Zimbabwe, the 
implementation which saw the dismantling of property rights and land tenure 
has damaged confidence for investors,” said CFU president Charles Taffs.

“The attrition of these rights has impacted, not only on citizens, but also 
foreign investors. Compensation for expropriated investments is a 
pre-requisite to the restoration of the country’s image as a good place to 
do business.”

The CFU accuses the government of failing to give secure tenure to the new 
black farmers, a situation which has turned land into “dead capital” which 
cannot be traded or advanced as collateral by farmers seeking loans in order 
to invest in its productivity.

In contrast, land values and land-based investment in the region has 
increased markedly with Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique having welcomed 
Zimbabwe’s displaced commercial farmers, and in the process boosting their 
agricultural output.

Zambia’s maize production has peaked three million metric tonnes in 2011 
before dipping slightly to 2,9 million metric tonnes this year.

The Zambia National Farmers Union’s head of outreach and member services 
Coillard Hamusimbi said last week his country would have a maize surplus of 
1,035 million metric tonnes this year.

Hamusimbi said that displaced white Zimbabwean commercial farmers were 
helping Zambia’s phenomenal agricultural growth.

Malawi also recorded a surplus in maize production after 2005 largely due to 
the Agricultural Productivity Investment Programme introduced in 1998, which 
included provision of credit to procure seeds for hybrid maize, legumes as 
well as fertiliser. Subsidies for fertiliser introduced in 2006 brought the 
prices down from US$22 to US$7 a bag.

On the other hand, Zimbabwe, now a basket case, has been moving from one 
policy failure to the next with the most recent flop being last month’s 
announcement of a US$20 million loan facility for wheat farmers which 
farmers still have not received despite the onset of the planting season.

Most farmers this week said they would abandon wheat farming, which can only 
serve to worsen food security and increase Zimbabwe’s reliance on imports.

Even the decision to move the budget year from June to January is also 
indicative of the government’s failure to align its policies with the 
agricultural sector as it is now held in the middle of the farming season, 
making it difficult to plan or offer the ideal assistance required by 

The Ian Smith regime held its budget in June after the agricultural season, 
which gave it the perfect opportunity to factor in the needs of agriculture 
for the following season.

Various schemes aimed at assisting new farmers have been launched but, as 
with other government programmes, they have failed to reach deserving 
beneficiaries with reports of abuse by ministers, high-ranking government 
officials and those connected to them.

Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono launched the Farm Mechanisation Programme 
in 2007 where beneficiaries were given farming implements.
However, the programme failed to stimulate agriculture after it was 
reportedly abused by politicians and Zanu PF supporters.

Lately there have been reports about ministers being given priority access 
to fertiliser at the Grain Marketing Board while ordinary farmers fail to 
access as little as a 25kg bag.

The failure of the country’s agriculture has had far-reachingnegative ripple 
effects on the economy leading to the collapse of downstream industries 
reliant on the sector for survival.

According to the CFU,“traditionally, for every dollar directly invested in 
agriculture, three were invested in downstream industry and services”.
This partly explains why the economy collapsed before 2009.


New Posts:

From the archives

Posts from our archive you may find interesting