‘Partnerships on unproductive land way to go’ Dr Anxious Masuka

Fungai Lupande Mash Central Bureau

A database of farmers interested in joint ventures with landholders is being assembled and those farmers who can invest will be prioritised on unproductive farms, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka has said.

Speaking at Virginia East Block Farm in Mazowe during a recent tour, Dr Masuka urged A1 farmers whose land had water and good soils to look for joint venture partners so that their farms could be made productive. 

He added that his ministry was at an advanced stage of putting together a database of potential joint venture partners.

“We request A2 farmers to produce annual production and productivity returns so that we can identify areas and farms where joint ventures can be consummated for agriculture transformation and attainment of Vision 2030. 

“One can become a successful farmer without owning title to the land. Joint venture agreements are the future of agriculture,” he said.

Dr Masuka urged plot holders at Virginia Farm who are involved in a dispute over a joint venture agreement signed in 2020 to respect and uphold the terms of the business agreement.

Two disgruntled farmers at Virginia Farm, only identified as Mucheri and Chinhete, have blocked the path of a centre pivot and thus are hindering investor-farmer Mr Wishman Doro from effectively irrigating the land.

The five-year joint venture was established in 2020 after the farm was unproductive for many years and accrued an enormous electricity bill, which saw plot owners being sued in the High Court.

Dr Masuka said the law of contract is very straightforward and farming is now a business.

“A joint venture partnership is a platform for farmers to learn best farming practices. When I took over from the late Minister Shiri all programmes he had started were accelerated,” he said.

“It is in this vein that 35 farmers entered into a five-year joint venture agreement with Mr Doro in 2020. The agreement was working exceedingly well until two of the A1 farmers decided to opt out of the venture. 

“The joint venture agreement ought to be respected. We have requested the local authorities to assist and ensure that the joint venture is extant and fulfilled to unlock massive production on this farm.”

Dr Masuka said Mr Doro is an example that one doesn’t need to own the land to become a successful farmer. Gone are the days where people brag about owning title to land yet there is no production on the ground.

Mr Doro, who started farming while in Grade 7 in his rural home in Chiweshe, is a beneficiary of land reform and was offered an A1 Farm at Slemish Farm in Mazowe.

In addition, he rented land but due to his hard work and his excelling in agriculture, he was selected by the late Minister of Agriculture Air Chief Marshal (Retired) Shiri to revive Virginia Farm.

“The plot owners were on the verge of losing their property when they approached me seeking to have their electricity bill cleared because the case was at the High Court. The late Minister Shiri was concerned that this farm was unproductive despite being close to a water body. A meeting to choose an investor was called and they chose me because I had assisted them.

“Following the death of Minister Shiri, two farmers said the agreement no longer exists. They placed stones, thorns and metal in the path of the centre pivot so that it doesn’t pass through their fields. I approached the Lands and Irrigation department to resolve the matter. 

“I was reported to the police for letting chemicals from the seed maize field get into the fields of one of the disgruntled farmers,” said Mr Doro.

Mr Doro has 40 hectares maize seed crop, 40 hectares soya beans and 100 hectares commercial soya beans.

One of the farmers, Mrs Elizabeth Ngwira said the joint venture has enabled them to learn and copy from Mr Doro.

“This farm was very unproductive. When Mr Doro acquired a centre pivot we were happy that our farm is developing,” she said.

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