Government is drafting a regulatory framework on contract farming that is expected to deal with cases of resettled farmers who are leasing farms to white former commercial farmers, a senior official said last week.The new farmers are leasing the land under the disguise of engaging in contract farming, it was established.
This comes after several reports of some resettled farmers who are leasing out land to the white former commercial farmers under the pretext that they were working as partners.
The white former commercial farmers will use the land and make profit and pay a small fee to the farmer.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development responsible for crops, Cde Davis Marapira, said sub-leasing land was one of the areas the framework would address. He said the ministry was going to conduct an investigation with assistance from the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement to find out the farmers who were leasing out land.
“We are going to carry out investigations on contract farming and the partnerships (that) farmers are undertaking and, we will deal with the culprits,” said Cde Marapira.
“It is illegal for resettled farmers to lease land. Farmers intending to venture into contract farming or partnerships should approach the Ministry of Agriculture’s economics and marketing department and also liaise with the Agricultural Marketing Authority for assistance.”
Cde Marapira said AMA would spell out Government’s expectations from the parties entering into a partnership.
“These institutions will assist the farmers with what is expected of them, what is expected of the contractor and how the partnership should be handled,” he said. Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora recently admitted to having received reports of farmers leasing out land to the former owners.
He said this was against the spirit of the land reform, which was meant to empower the indigenous people who were the rightful owners of the land.
Dr Mombeshora warned farmers doing so that they would have their farms repossessed and redistributed to other landless Zimbabweans on the waiting list.