From George Maponga in Masvingo
Government has started issuing leases to white commercial farmers who were recommended to remain on their properties throughout the country.
Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora last Friday said the duration of the leases being issued to the white farmers varied depending on the type of their farming operations.
Dr Mombeshora said white farmers who were receiving leases were recommended by their respective provinces to remain on their land as their operations were deemed to be of strategic economic importance.
“We have in fact already started issuing leases to white farmers after receiving recommendations that they must remain on their properties from their respective provinces. I cannot tell the number of leases we have given out or that we are going to give but all I can say is we are giving white farmers leases,’’ he said.
Dr Mombeshora said Government was not giving white farmers special treatment by giving them leases while their indigenous black counterparts are getting offer letters.
He stressed that indigenous black farmers who benefited under the land reform programme would also get leases after proving their capacity to work on the land.
“We are giving the white farmers leases right away because we already know their production history on the properties they were recommended to stay. The white farmers who are getting leases have been on their properties for too long that everyone knows their capabilities,’’ he said.
“Indigenous black farmers will also get leases but that will happen after about three years. During this time, we will be monitoring things such as production levels and also whether they would have taken up their properties because most of them are still fairly new in farming,’’ added Dr Mombeshora.
The Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister said provincial land committees countrywide together with their respective political leadership had the final say on which white farmers remained on their properties.
Most provinces around the country have recommended several white farmers in strategic areas such as dairy farming and hybrid bull production to remain on their properties and help revive agricultural production and enhance economic growth in those areas.
In Masvingo about six white farmers were recommended to get offer letters, by the provincial leadership, among them a chicken breeder, Ms Helen Mitchell whose Barquest Farm on the shores of Lake Mutirikwi produces 100 000 day-old chicks per week, and is considered strategic to Masvingo Province’s economy.