Source: Hands off dairy farms — minister | The Herald December 29, 2017
Munyaradzi Musiiwa Midlands Correspondent
Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs Owen Ncube has warned illegal settlers against invading dairy farms that were spared by Government during the Land Reform Programme.
Minister Ncube’s concern comes amid reports that illegal settlers had invaded dairy farms in the province where in some instances they restricted dairy farmers to about 13 hectares. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has reiterated that there was need to spare dairy farms in the land redistribution exercise as these were contributing directly towards the growth of the economy and import substitution.
Addressing Midlands dairy farmers yesterday, Minister Ncube said it was Government policy to spare dairy farms in the land redistribution exercise to maximise milk production. Minister Ncube warned lands officers against allocating unproductive people land on dairy farms, adding that this would adversely affect milk production.
“I understand that Midlands is one of the leading provinces in terms of milk production and we would want it to remain like that,” he said. “In the past years, we have spared the dairy farmers, but of late we learnt that some of the farms were downsized to levels that made their business non-viable and uneconomic. We want to correct the anomaly. We are not witch-hunting, but we want to ensure that we increase milk production.
“We are going to sit down with the lands committee and the responsible ministry and map the way forward on how best these affected farmers can be assisted. Some of the cases are before the courts, therefore, we can’t make a decision before the court outcome.”
Minister Ncube said Government was prioritising agriculture as a key production sector that had a potential of turning around the economy. Meanwhile, dairy farmers have targeted to produce more than 61 million litres of milk annually by 2020. Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers chairperson Mr Edward Warambwa revealed the statistics.
Local farmers are producing 4,5 million litres a month against the national demand of eight million litres. The country has become a net importer of milk from neighbouring countries such as South Africa. Midlands has 33 dairy and cattle farmers and the province recommended that these be issued with offer letters to enable them to increase production.