via Government keen on downsizing farms | The Herald July 20, 2015
Government has instructed provincial affairs ministers to undertake land audits in areas under their jurisdiction to ensure they adhere to stipulated farms sizes.
In an interview last week, the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement Dr Douglas Mombeshora said he had given an instruction to all provinces to embark on a farm rationalisation exercise to ensure farmers occupied land they could fully utilise.
“We have a policy which has guidelines on farm sizes depending on the region, rainfall pattern and some relief features in a certain area or province. The idea behind this process is not just to ensure excess land for redistribution but also that land is fully utilised,” said Dr Mombeshora.
Although he could not give a specific timeframe within which the exercise should be completed, some provincial ministers said the exercise was already in full swing.
Masvingo provincial affairs minister Cde Shuvai Mahofa, said the province had started downsizing by half farms that were over 1000 hectares.
“The exercise started almost a month ago and we have downsized a number of farms that we felt were too large and were not being fully-utilised, said Cde Mahofa.
However, there are certain areas where we carried out an assessment and established that one may have more than the mandatory farm size but is fully utilising the land. We have compiled a report which we will discuss with the provincial lands officer and present to the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement,” she said.
She said farmers in the province were opting to have their farms downsized because of the cost of maintaining a large farm which they were not fully utilizing.
In Manicaland, Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Mandi Chimene said they had also started the farm rationalisation exercise.
She however said she could not give specific figures of farms that had been assessed and the total hectarage recommended.
“The farm size depends on the region. Right now I am not in the office but I can supply you with all the details tomorrow,” said Cde Chimene.
The recommended farm sizes range between 250 hectares in Region I to 500 hectares in Region V. Region I is suitable for dairy farming, forestry, tea, coffee, fruit, beef and maize production while Region V is mainly for cattle ranching.
Government is targeting to repossess 80 000 hectares of land in Midlands province to be redistributed to other land seekers.
The province has over 15 000 illegal settlers.