Presenting the 2017 National Budget recently, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, said farmers should instead of invading land, concentrate on increasing production to ensure national food security.
“With the Fast Track Land Reform having been concluded, there is need to cease further farm invasions to allow existing farmers to focus on production,” he said.
Continuous land invasions threaten existing farmers and scare away potential on-farm investment, that way undermining the restoration of the country’s bread basket status.
“There is disappointment on non-utilisation of the vast tracts of land under most Government institutions, which requires urgent attention, given food security concerns.
He said Government was encouraging joint ventures to ensure maximum utilisation of land and increase food production.
Parastatals are now being encouraged to venture into partnerships to ensure maximum use of land.
“The requirement for increased utilisation of idle agriculture land has seen the Agricultural Rural Development Authority targeting to increase utilisation of land from 15 832 hectares to 43 547 hectares for both crop and livestock production during 2017, through joint venture partnerships”, said Minister Chinamasa.
“Similarly, with regards to other institutional farms belonging to Prisons, the Defence Forces and the Police, a total of 5 410 hectares have been contracted to produce maize under Command Agriculture. This is over and above other initiatives being implemented in conjunction with selected partners.”
Meanwhile, Government has paid $56,8 million since the adoption of the multi-currency system to white former commercial farmers for compensation for land acquired during the land reform programme.
“Government remains committed to honouring its obligations with regards to farms acquired under the Land Reform Programme, said Minister Chinamasa.
“In this regard, since the adoption of the multi-currency system, Government has paid a total of $56,8 million.”
Minister Chinamasa said agricultural production required long-term investment, which was compensated for by long pay-back periods.
He urged farmers to fully utilise their land, saying there was need for meaningful investment to anchor increased agricultural productivity.