Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
Government has issued only 4 000 permits to A1 farmers who number more than 200 000, as the process is being hampered by under-staffing within the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement. Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora yesterday said the ministry was struggling with limited staff to process the A1 permits. “We have issued out 4 000 permits to farmers in Mashonaland West, Matabeleland South and Midlands,” he said. “We could have issued more than that, but our ministry is understaffed and this is affecting us. We have 2 600 establishments, but we only have about 500 people on the job.
“Our major challenge is human resources. We need staff to go into the farming areas and carry out farm inspections before the farms can be verified and issued out with permits. We are doing our best and every A1 farmer should get the permit.”
Dr Mombeshora said most A1 farmers will get the permits as they meet Government requirements.
He said A1 farmers had established homesteads, were utilising the land and were staying on the properties.
“Most A1 farmers are working hard and meet the requirements,” said Dr Mombeshora. “We do not have problems with the A1 farmers.”
Dr Mombeshora has on several occasions applauded A1 farmers for their contribution towards food security, saying they were more productive compared to their commercial A2 counterparts.
The A1 permit ensures the farmer assumes full ownership of land and can make long term plans.
Before the introduction of the permits, A1 farmers used to rely on offer letters that were issued out at district level and this caused challenges as there were cases of dual land allocation.
A1 permit beneficiaries have the right to use land for agriculture, pastoral and residential purposes.
The permit guarantees land rights for an indefinite period, and is subject to Zimbabwe’s laws of inheritance.
Government can cancel the permit if the holder is leasing the land.