Joseph Madzimure Senior Reporter
ZANU-PF Youth League is set to engage provincial ministers across the country to secure underutilised land ahead of the 2019-2020 farming season in a move aimed at ensuring food security at household level.
The youths are hoping to secure at least 2 400 hectares of land, which will be put under maize and small grains.
Maize will be grown in provinces which receive high annual rainfall such as Manicaland, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West.
In an interview yesterday, Zanu-PF Deputy Secretary for Youth Affairs Cde Lewis Matutu said they are engaging provincial ministers and farmers countrywide to ensure they surrender underutilised land to the youths who want to work as volunteers to ensure Zimbabwe regains its bread basket status.
“We are expecting to get at least 300 hectares of land from the eight province.
“We are engaging provincial ministers. We have got a crisis in terms of grain because the country is having to import cereal.
“In our view as the Youth League, the simple reason is because we have so many people who have farms that are underutilised.
“We have taken a stance that with or without paper work, we are going to engage farmers so that they surrender the underutilised pieces of land for the 2019-2020 farming season to the youths.
“We are not taking away those farms, but we are going to show farm owners that production is possible, but it requires commitment.
“Let us give an opportunity to young people to showcase their talent.
“We cannot hold land for speculative purpose, while the country is importing maize from neighbouring countries, “he said.
He urged farmers not to panic since it is only for the 2019-2020 farming season to ensure all the land is used for productive purposes.
“Land belongs to the State, that is why we have 99-year leases on our farms.
“We have people who are utilising less than 10 hectares of land on a farm that has 1200 hectares.
“That is not fair so those farmers that are in areas where we have volunteers from the Youth League and the National Youth Service can make use of them.
“The programme is apolitical. All interested youths are invited to take part in the exercise for the benefit of the country.
“The initiative will be monitored from the central Government,” he said.
Cde Matutu said farmers should fully utilise land for the benefit of the country.
“We are going to work with the officials from the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure the initiative will be a success.
“We met with the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Perence Shiri today and we discussed the idea at length.
“He emphasised the challenge which we might face, but he is supporting the idea since most of the land is underutilised. We will do it in a respectful and understandable manner,” he said.
“We are going to source inputs for the youths so that the land will be put into good use under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture officials.
“We will not allow any resistance because we are not doing this for ourselves, but for our country,” he said.