Cabinet yesterday approved the first clean-up of land allocations as a result of the ongoing farm audit, with reallocation of 24 farms under multiple farm-ownership and 367 abandoned or vacant farms, and downsizing of 71 farms to the maximum permitted size for their ecological region.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said the farms will be reallocated to deserving applicants while the issue of tenure documents will be speeded up.
Speaking after the Cabinet meeting yesterday, she said Cabinet adopted a report from Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri of the first phase of the comprehensive national agriculture land audit covering 18 646 farms, representing six percent of 300 000 to be audited.
“Arising from today’s presentation, the following key decisions were made: that the issuance of tenure documents will be expedited, that married beneficiaries will be given joint tenure documents to protect spouses on land ownership, that the 255 abandoned land units and 112 vacant land units will be re-allocated to deserving applicants, that 24 farms under multiple farm ownership will be withdrawn and re-allocated to deserving applicants, that the 71 identified farms exceeding the maximum gazetted sizes will be downsized,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“Allocation of land will be in line with the gazetted policy quotas with respect to war veterans, women, youths and people living with disabilities.”
She said the second phase of the audit, covering 38 000 farms had already been undertaken, and the report on required action will soon be presented. The third phase will cover 242 000 farms.
Responding to questions, Minister Shiri said there was an overwhelming demand for land running into tens of thousands applicants. His ministry would stick to the maximum farm sizes and any variation would be done judiciously to maintain productivity.
“We are aware that there are highly productive farms which if disrupted will not augur well for the economy,” said Minister Shiri.
Any allocation beyond the maximum permitted size would be by lease and that this would not be a right but a privilege.
Under the limits set as Government policy, farms in natural region one, generally specialist farming areas in the Eastern Highlands, should not exceed 250ha; those in region two, the well-watered northern highveld areas, are limited to a maximum of 500ha; farms in region three, largely less well-watered than region two, should be limited to 700ha; region four farms, mostly in livestock production areas, should be at most 1 000ha; and natural region five farms, usually ranches, should not go beyond 2 000ha.
He said the demand for land among Zimbabweans at home and in the diaspora was overwhelming.
Minister Shiri said Government would continue to engage banks on the bankability of 99 year leases, so that these could be used for security for loans. He accused banks of reneging on agreed positions, saying Government felt that it was high time for it to engage shareholders of the financial institutions.
Minister Shiri said an opinion sought from the World Bank indicated that the lease agreements were bankable.
In her brief, Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet approved the 2020 winter maize production programme targeting 4 000 hectares to cut imports and ensure adequate stocks.
“A cost-benefit analysis of the programme reveals that it will result in substantial savings in comparison to importing the same amount of maize. Other benefits of the programme include, maximisation of land use, ensuring food supply sufficiency as most countries are not likely to export due to the Covid-19 pandemic, employment creation for locals along the whole value chain of maize production, and reduction of the burden of support on Treasury since the programme is run on a cost-recovery basis,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.