Poor utilization of land behind Zimbabwe’s hunger threat

via Poor utilization of land behind Zimbabwe’s hunger threat | SW Radio Africa by Tichaona Sibanda 23 October 2013

Hunger is stalking millions of people in Zimbabwe as food insecurity grows amid concerns the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is on the verge of collapsing, according to our correspondent in Harare.

Simon Muchemwa, who has been to several districts in the country in the last month, told us the current high levels of food insecurity are being attributed to various factors, including the controversial land grab program and poor farming methods.

Muchemwa said the situation is being made worse by the GMB, which has shut down most of its depots due financial problems. The GMB is the country’s leading grain trade and marketing company but it owes farmers millions in dollars from previous farming seasons.

Unlike previous years where food shortages where concentrated in drought prone areas, this year the crisis is affecting even the most fertile of lands in Mashonaland, Manicaland and Midlands provinces.

Speaking on our weekly program The Hidden Story, Muchemwa said since the start of the year, the grain reserves have been running dangerously low, and the situation has been worsened further by farmers concentrating on cash and not food crops.

Once dubbed the ‘bread basket of the region’, the country’s thriving agricultural sector has taken a severe knock after the violent takeover of white-owned commercial farms by President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF government.

The country now imports grain from Zambia and Malawi — countries to which it used to export. Many of the white farmers who lost their farms and resettled in Zambia are the ones now providing the grain to Zimbabwe.

‘The problem with farmers who benefitted from the land reform exercise is that they are mainly growing tobacco for export and only a small percentage of farmers are growing maize for consumption,’ Muchemwa said.

Our correspondent added that during his tour of the countryside, he witnessed vast swathes of prime land not being utilized.

This week, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) contributed US$25 million to support vulnerable families suffering the effects of drought and a poor harvest.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) will use this contribution, along with additional donor funding, to support a relief operation for over 2 million of the most food-insecure people during the lean season between October and March 2014, when the next harvest is due.



  • comment-avatar
    ZimJim 9 years ago

    This is not news. Bob’s plan was, and it, to stay in power with populist policies that will then fail and thereby generate aid income that he can put in his, and his buddies pockets. Simple. He doesn’t care about “The People”, just about himself! FACT.

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    ZimJim 9 years ago

    Typo.. “Bob’s plan was, and it” should read “Bob’s plan was, and IS”

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    Zvapasipano 9 years ago

    Let them produce. What’s their problem they have the land.kunonzi kurima ivhu basi ? Njere shoma . Vaiona mabhunu achiswera mumunda vaiti kupenga ? You need the resources, manpower good planning. Go to school. Mazitofo kukara.vapambefumi.

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    Tjingababili 9 years ago


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    simon 9 years ago

    ‘you reap what you sow’ and this is the result of greed, racism and greed for power, tibalism, corruption, rape and pillage…the foundations of mugabes rule and this is the result. If he had stuck true to his word one man one farm regardless of race or creed or political affiliation zim would not be in this sorry state. IT has gone on so long now (12years) this nonsense that most Zimbabweans have become used to not working hard and expect it all on a plate and those that want to work there are no decent paying jobs. The only time it will change is when we have real change and that means having jongwe kicked out and roasted then start from a clean slate. Bring back the law, one man one farm regardless. otherwise your children will continue to suffer and Zimbabwe remain if not become twin country to Somalia etc. Remember we used to laugh at the kwacha..whos laughing now..we don’t even have our own currency for gods sake!

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    hatina kumbofa nenzara Smith achitonga vanhu vaidya vachiguta chose uye vachifunda chaizvo. Papinda gandanga harina basa noupenyu hwavazhinji kunze kwemhuri dzavo ko ndidzo dzakarwirwa here kuti ivo vasununguke vanhu vachitambura saizvozvi.Zvino rufu harusarudzi runotsvaga vacho vakafuma vachichererwa pasi vamunywe nomujuru varombo vachihwedzerwa makore mazhinji nenhamo yavo.Kunamata kuda vanofunga vo kwete kutora zvisikwa zvaMwari kunge nhunzi dzinonyangadza.Mari ye diamond maba mari yema donor maba mari yema tax maba chikafu chedonation maba mukapa Zanu PF chete ndivo pese pese muripo.Kuriga muripo corruption muripo kuponda vanhu muripo ko mozoshaikwa vo papi,KUITA RAPE MURIPO,kushaya law muripo kuita initimidations muripo kuma courts of law muripo,kumanikidza vanhu pazvinhu zvavo muripo kutorera vanhu vakadzi vavo upombwe muripo.kuba ufumi hwenyika muchindoisa kunyika dzavamunoti vanodzwinyirira muripo. moyo yenyu haidi kuona munhu mutema achifamba nemota muripo mowanza ma toll gates kuvatorera zvishoma zvavanazvo.hamudi kuona varombo vana Lazarus vachifara mavapo. udofo chete hwakunetsai varungu vangavasingadi kuona umwe wavo achitambura.ko ZANU PF hama dzayo dzomunyika yeZimbabwe ndivanani?Chero aseka anonzi aseka Mugabe woiswa ku court veku court vava kuziva udzwinyiriri huripo chete vanotya kuurawa nevanhu vako vasina brain vakafoira kuchikoro.

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    Much as we blame Zanupf, the blame should also be extended to those that “voted” for Zanupf. I really fail to understand why on earth any one would think or imagine Zanupf should or can fairly rule after failing for the last 33 years.

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    The few farmers that are farming are growing tobacco to supply the Chinese demand. They will not purchase coal to cure the tobacco, so for each hectare of tobacco grown they cut down, at least, half a hectare of trees. With thousand of poor farmers growing on average, one hectare each, the country is been devastated. No planning, no plan except for right now, rivers been polluted by Chinese mining, wildlife been devastated equals a once vibrant and prosperous country fast becoming another Somalia. Is it possible that Sadc and the African Union can ever grow the balls to say no more and let’s try and get that bleeding country back on track. I doubt it, but if they do not Zimbabwe will soon become another failed beggar state relying on billions in food aid to keep its population from starving. How was this terrible state of affairs ever allowed to come about and all under the kleptocracy of ONE MAN.

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    tinofiranyika 9 years ago

    vamugabe dai vaine nzeve nemoyo chii chaiitika kumhuri yezimbabwe taneta kuchema tava marangwanda asi tichamuka zvedu

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    munzwa 9 years ago

    Let all those who voted for this individual and his party candidates share the blame. When you continue to GIVE out resources to the “settled” farmers what incentive is there to repay these “loans”? Look at all the side marketing that is going on as well, the whole system now stinks!

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    Gondo Arishaya 9 years ago

    What a way to go. Zimbabwe through our own ignorence, hate, greed and wanting every thing for nothing has been distroyed afer all the hard work that made it a beautifull country.
    In the election the people that voted for Mugabe voted with greed and hoping to get something for nothing which Mugabe promised then.
    They were hoping to get the remining white farms and the foreign companies.
    Well now you got hunger. I am Zimbabwian and just can not understand our culture, inteligence, ability to analyse think and make sense of what we observe and hear. 33 years we still belief in a man who has totalled failed us. Are we really that much of cowards that one man destoys a nation and we still sulute him. “God help those that help themselves” Maybe god need to see that we are making an effort to help oursekves befor he jumps in. God have mercy on the people of Zimbabwe.

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    Twinn 9 years ago

    1980 = 1 man 1 vote.
    2013 = 1 man 0 vote.

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    Greyhora 9 years ago

    Finally we get to read about the real reason for hunger, not the sanctions here sanctions there drivel that Zanu PF would want us to believe all the time!! The monumental “sanctions” lie is a smokescreen from the embarrassment of a dismally failed land-grab, which has made the country hungrier than ever!!

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    Bruce 9 years ago

    There is no one to farm the land, how much land does Mugabe and Grace have, they are also occupying state house, so who is to blame. No one can serve two masters. Chiwenga, Chihuri and others they are on pay roll, who is tilling the ground to make a living, no one. Whites wre either farmers or gainfully employed. Mugabe thought he could be a farmer when what he wants is being president for life, it does not work. Smith went to farmimg after retiring from active politics. The peasant who are on the land they have no farming land. All Zanu PF parliamentarians have vasity tracks of land, and yet they stay in Harare, who is tilling the land?

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    moyokumusha 9 years ago

    It is not about who is tilling the land BUT who can till the land. Productive farming is not about a plot, a badza, seed and manure. Zimbabwe needs large scale commercial farmers who can feed the majority of it people who are now in the urban area’s.
    Pre land invasion 70% of Zimbabwe’s economy relied on agriculture and 25% of SA’s economy relied on Zimbabwe. That explains the state of those two economies today so little wonder the GMB is going bust.
    We need someone with the balls to say ” we made a mistake, sorry”

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    The mistake we made was to have the narrow view that the colonialists drove our fathers from the fertile land along the watershed because they were racists and oppressive. We failed to note that this was the hub of all the commercial farming of the country. The result was that we villagised those commercial farms when we settled all and sundry in A1 plots. An A1 plot is a 20 ht plot were 6ht are for tillage, 1ht is for homested and 13 ht are for grazing but in a communal setup. Now due to rampant corruption people are being settled on grazing areas and male children who have reached age of majority are now sharing in the small plots. So obviously within a shot period desertification will set in. It seems like very few A1 farmers understand that they are in it for small scale commercial farming. The gvt through these presidental donations of inputs of seeds and fertilisers year after year is also not helping the situation . However, the way to redeem the situation the way I see it is to determine the appropriate number of plot holders per farm, install appropriate infrastructure such as bore holes and give appropriate farming equipment e.g. power tillers etc.

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    some great comments here

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    my editor i have a big respect for you as a person but will like to question your syllogism of this land creature. Brothers and sisters political prostitution was done or let me say political blunder.Our representatives in the lancaster house failed us, they failed to look at the word ‘willing ‘,on the rightfull context , this is the same mistake which is still haunting some people like the editor. The land issue from a non partisan point of view was a neccesary evil, as long as the constitution emphasised on a willing seller it meant that land will remain in the hands of those conniving whitemen, in a statement by rhodes 1886, he said “i was in the east london last week and there was a civil war for people fighting for bread, then its up to us imperialist to acquire more land and resources in africa so that we can stop this calamity”, yes they grabbed the land but which land, the land which belonged to the black race.Guys lets not be pesmistic on some of these issues cauz we swallow the holus bolus and take literally what all these editors say, lituba tuba nyoka a tonga , this is our zimbabwe and if there was a solution to be taken i guess a zimbabwean way should be taken not a somalian way and not a viena way.My research tells me that the number of whitemen who died during the ftlr dont exceed the numbers of people who died in south in 1996 on this land issue.If u dont know south africans are still bitter about the land distribution process, the black man ‘s land was taken on violence to revive the economy of these imperialst and what is bad about a black man taking it on violence, is it just because its somebody else not you, we love this country but we sometimes dont love what we see , is insulting mugabe and tsvangirai going to change the course of events , i like learning from experienced people but i hate learning from those who are experienced in mischief.This is my zimbabwe and your zimbabwe and you are my brother, liberators have never existed but people liberate themselve, if we fought together to attain independence what can stop me and you to collaborate to stop poverty. Despite of eclipse there is a ray of light shining in a faraway horizon

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    you voted for mugabe because you thought it will determine your destiny and if i voted for tsvangirai thus what i felt was the right thing, whoever won, won it guys, i wont let my bitterness make other people feel bad, it is anti democratic to try and coerce democracy, next time whoever want to win must use diplomacy and try to bring tangible campaign strategies.The last time i saw a politician in my home was those last days before we voted for them back in 2008,you know these people only visitcus when they need us to forge their legitimacy and the moment he wins he thinks and fancies a jaccuzi, mansion and a new car on which it is bought on our money.Why do i have to cheer up a zanu mp singing in a parliament, and is a mdc councillor reading a novel in a parliament a hero, what is this epitomizing. The outgone speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo is from Mbembeswana in kezi , in Mt South, he had been in politics for many years as a mdc represantative, people had been selfless in voting for him.In his years in office did he manage to bring cows at home,no.How many 8year kids walk fifteen kilometres to reach a closest primary school in that area, how many people push willbarrows ten kilometres to go and fetch water from an outmoded and malfunctioning borehole, then tell me, does it need nikuv to rig elections or we rig ourselves before going to elections.There was the gnu creature and thanx god its gone and i pray never shall it raise its head in generations to come, what where they fantasyzn about this constitution, and thanks to their ill advised councillors who were asking for laptops whilst peasents were struggling.From a patriotic point of view i blame the mugabeism and tsvangiraism.They are good leaders who have failed to allocate right portfolios to right people, i mean ed cross is a novelist and i am failing to understand on who is chombo,we are static with these people championing mischief in gvt