THE Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement yesterday launched the National and Gender Sensitive Policy for Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in an effort to improve the land governance system.
Government is developing the Gender Sensitive Land Policy in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Zimbabwe.
The formulation of the policy, supported through a Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) valued at US$400 000, is guided by the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security.
Speaking during the launch in Bulawayo yesterday, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Douglas Karoro said it was imperative that a comprehensive and gender-sensitive land policy be put in place.
“In light of the significant changes to the ownership structure and production patterns ensuing principally from the fast track land reform, the need to mitigate the effects of climate change, technological advances, and international best practices amongst others, the Government is compelled to adopt a comprehensive gender comprehensive gender sensitive national policy,” he said.
“The policy should integrate land administration in a holistic manner with aspects that include land tenure, access to land, land use planning, land information management, land disputes resolution, environmental sustainability, management of wildlife, forestry and water.”
Deputy Minister Karoro said demand for land had grown exponentially due to agriculture, urbanisation, infrastructure development, mining and energy production.
“This event comes against the backdrop of many changes brought about by the land reform programme,” he said. “At independence, 15,5 million hectares of agricultural land was owned by 6 000 white commercial farmers who constituted less than one percent of the country’s population.
“More than half of the 15,5 million hectares lay in the high rainfall agro-ecological regions where there was great potential for agricultural production.”
Deputy Minister Karoro said it was unfortunate that the small-scale commercial farming sub-sector comprising of 8 500 black farmers who owned 1,4 million hectares of agricultural land earned a living on the land located mostly in the drier agro-ecological regions four and five.
“The land reform programme was, therefore, unavoidable,” he said. “Systematic changes to the country’s agrarian structure have, therefore, ensued from the land reform programme implemented in different phases and formats since 1980.
“Cumulatively, approximately 14 million hectares previously owned by commercial white farmers now vests in the State and has mostly been allocated to indigenous farmers. A record 300 000 families have been resettled countrywide, drastically changing the country’s land ownership structure increasing small holder participation in agriculture.”
Deputy Minister Karoro said the Ministry was grateful to FAO for responding positively to Government’s request for technical support for the land policy review process and securing funds to support the process.
Yesterday’s launch was the second one in the country covering Bulawayo, Midlands, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South provinces.
The first launch was held in Harare and covered Harare, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West provinces.