Don’t destroy timber, fruit plantations: Minister
Timber plantations and fruit estates are under threat from resettled farmers who are clearing the land for other uses. Manicaland and Matabeleland South are the most affected provinces. Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora last week said teams from the ministry have been visiting plantations and estates to assess the new farmers’ production levels.
The teams were taken aback by the rate of destruction of the plantations and estates.
“We have been visiting estates that used to be for sugarcane, banana, tea and timber plantations to see what was going on.
“We found out that most farmers especially in Manicaland and Matabeleland South were destroying trees to grow food crops and in most cases were not getting meaningful yields as the soils are not suitable,” he said.
He said resettlement was not for new farmers to destroy the existing plantations and estates but to continue and grow the businesses.
“We would want resettled farmers to continue producing timber, fruits and tea. These areas are not meant for maize production. While others produce food crops, others should be producing fruits, tea and timber,” he said.
“Government has therefore stopped parcelling out areas with plantations until we come up with a proper policy on tea, pine, macadamia estates and timber plantations.”
Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union vice president Mr Berean Mukwende said lack of appreciation of the sector and depressed markets for crops like tea had discouraged production. He added farmers used to get competitive prices when the Arda Katiyo Tea factory was operational.
He said many farmers resettled on such plantations did not have access to funding from banks and were not included in inputs schemes.