Precious Manomano-Herald Reporter
Up to 260 000 people on the waiting list for farms are expected to benefit when the Government begins to reallocate abandoned plots, underused farms and farms that are lying idle.
Those with multiple farms will have the extra farms repossessed by the Government and will be reallocated to people on the waiting list, to allow more people to venture into agriculture.
The exercise would be done through a special purpose investment vehicle under the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) that would be particularly targeted at Zimbabweans in the diaspora, who have taken advantage of every engagement with President Mnangagwa, to indicate their interest in agriculture.
Since the launch of the Land Reform Programme in 2000, Government has distributed 14 million hectares to over 380 000 families, of which 360 000 are A1 farmers and 23 000 being A2 farmers.
But the land redistribution process is continuous to ensure Zimbabwe’s farm land is used for maximum benefit.
Speaking during the launch of the new special purpose vehicle, the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority Vision Incubator and Accelerator Model or ARDA VIAM, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Anxious Masuka said the ministry would assess available plots and farms that are underused and assign them to the deserving people.
“The Ministry is going to repossess multiple farm ownerships, so that one family owns one farm, abandoned plots,” said Minister Masuka.
“We want to take these plots and give them to deserving Zimbabweans. For the underused farms, we have sent out technical teams to go and assess the productivity at a particular location, and the derelict farms for example and those who plunder resources on the farms. We are going to repossess them and redistribute them to Zimbabweans,” he said.
But these categories are not going to find land in sufficient quantities and quality to enable the many diaspora land seekers to get land too.
This has seen President Mnangagwa approving the formation of ARDA VIAM to unlock the potential of land.
While the Land Reform Programme had largely redressed historical land imbalances, it also created opportunities for rural decongestion while enabling a new crop of agricultural entrepreneurs to be established.
The waiting list stands at just over 260 000 across the provinces.
Mashonaland West tops the list with 70 653 people with the Matabeleland North having the least, at 8 873. Over 10 000 people from the diaspora have indicated their desire to either return and farm or fund their agriculture ventures from their foreign bases.
Dr Masuka said 99 percent of the farm land had been allocated, and it was impossible to allocate the additional land using the traditional methods.
“It is proposed to create an Agricultural and Rural Development Authority special purpose vehicle called ARDA VIAM. It is an agricultural investment, given land by the Government where diaspora land seekers would invest and be given shares,” he said.
The proposed ARDA VIAM would be a vehicle for empowerment, investment and for unlocking the potential of land without the burden of owning and running discreet farms and running uneconomical units.
The programme was a vehicle for preservation of agricultural land, avoiding large-scale villagisation and assuring the nation of food security, generating much-needed exports and creating value addition and beneficiation while accelerating rural industrialisation and expediting rural development for the accelerated attainment of Vision 2030.
Dr Masuka said all people on the waiting list were considered as investors and those in the diaspora are afforded the opportunity to own land and shares and dividends without necessarily waiting for their allocation on the waiting list.
He said the model is lucrative and would allow people to get their high dividends compared to other investment options.
He said some have waited for over 20 years to access land adding that this is an opportunity to benefit from land.
Cotton Producers and Marketers Association chairman Mr Stewart Mubonderi has welcomed the initiative saying it will pave a way to ensure that everyone has benefited from the land programme.
“This is a positive step in the right direction. If productive people and those with potential are given land, then this is a welcome development.
“We appreciate the Government’s effort and we are there to support the programme. We are also assured of food security if the land is given to those with potential to uplift and support the vision of or country,” he said.
Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust president Mrs Depinah Nkomo said farmers are failing to perform well due to unavailability of adequate resources.
She said there was a need to find out why the farmers were failing to do well, adding that those with multiple farms should also surrender others for others to benefit.
“Some farmers are not doing well because of lack of adequate resources. It is a good idea to allow other people to benefit from the land redistribution programme but an assessment should be done before the process is done so that other farmers are not disadvantaged.
“Transparency is also needed when these processes are done,” she said.
Auditing of farms is ongoing to assess the level of land use and the extent of multiple land ownership. The investigation undertaken by Zimbabwe Land Commission is aimed at gauging the success of the land reform programme, addressing double allocations and resolving farm disputes.