Source: Govt worried over underutilised farms | The Herald November 12, 2018
Tawanda Mangoma in Chiredzi
Government is concerned with the high level of underperformance by sugar cane and citrus farmers in Chiredzi where most of the plots are lying idle, an official has said.
Zanu-PF deputy chairperson for Masvingo province Cde Ailess Baloyi said recently that following a visit to the area by the Land Commission, the underperforming farmers had been given a three months’ ultimatum to shape up.
The development comes after over 5 000 hectares of irrigable land is lying idle in the Lowveld prompting the ministry to undertake a massive land audit since last year.
Addressing party members during an inter-district meeting in Chiredzi recently, Cde Baloyi said the Land Commission was taking stock of land utilisation patterns in the area.
“The Land Commission is in Chiredzi and today we managed to tour farms in Sections 12, 13 and 14,” he said.
“It’s very sad to note that some farms have been occupied by cellphone farmers.
“These only appear when producing offer letters but are in the habit of hibernating during production periods. You can’t be claiming ownership of a farm, which you are failing to utilise. The Ministry of Lands has given a three months’ ultimatum to underperformers to either venture into partnerships, revamp productivity or have their farms repossessed.
“If you go to Mkwasine you can see farms which are lying idle.
“The President is talking about production and we must play our part as farmers. It is everyone’s duty to help in the building the national economy. We used to have citrus plantations and all these ventures must be revamped so that we export.”
Cde Baloyi, who is also a member of the Masvingo Development Trust, said people in the district (Chiredzi) must brace for massive economic growth with expected increase in product in mining and citrus farming.
“We attended the Provincial Development Committee early this week and we only discovered that Chiredzi has a lot of coal, lithium and even diamonds,” he said. “We want to create wealth for our communities. We want to create employment and this requires all of us to work collectively.
“The coal deposits in Chiredzi’s Gudo area, Mutapurwa, Gonarezhou National Park can see us produce fertilisers, diesel and that is what we want.”
The party’s provincial secretary for information and publicity, Cde Ronald Ndava, said the GDP of the province required increased investments in the current key economic actors.
“We have to expand our production cake. Our province’s GDP can only grow if we make sure that we open more irrigated land,” he said.
“We must not rely on subdividing land but rather expand the irrigated space using water from Tugwi-Mukosi among other dams.”