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PRESS STATEMENT – COMMERCIAL FARMERS UNION OF ZIMBABWE 17 January 2013
PRESS STATEMENT – COMMERCIAL FARMERS UNION OF ZIMBABWE
17 January 2013
The state of agriculture in Zimbabwe and a practical solution to the land question
Before I start the press statement I would like to convey my deep shock and sadness at the sudden passing away of Seiso Moyo our Deputy Minister of Agriculture. Seiso was passionate about Zimbabwe in general and Zimbabwean Agriculture in particular and will be a great loss to this country. Our condolences go out to his family at this time.
The Commercial Farmers Union would first like to wish all Zimbabwean’s a positive and prosperous new year. We commit ourselves to serve the interest of the country in promoting inclusive and sustainable social and economic development and recovery. We remain an independent and politically neutral membership driven organisation which represents and advances the interests of professional farmers in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa. Our main agenda is to promote a stable and competitive agricultural business environment and to provide advice and support to farmers. We believe that this Union and its members can play a significant role in ensuring a bright future for the nation and its people through the successful completion of the land reform programme. We believe that there is a way forward that can result in significant improvement in national recovery and economic restoration to the funding of the ongoing agricultural transformation in Zimbabwe.
Historically agriculture has been the back bone of Zimbabwe’s economy. However the total nationalization and acquisition of some 11.8 million hectares of commercial farm land which was previously held under free hold title has seen the end to secure property rights and of investor confidence not only in agriculture but across all sectors. Further, government’s inability and failure to pay compensation and bring closure to the acquisition process has crippled the institutional capacity to lend into this sector. National collateral has effectively been undermined and all agricultural land in Zimbabwe is now an impaired economic asset. Farmers have weak security of tenure and weak land rights. Lending to the agricultural sector has become excessively constrained and is heavily risk loaded resulting in massive limitations to production. The sector is both uncompetitive and non-performing as a result. Both local and foreign investors have either lost or are currently insecure in their investment. Land reform beneficiaries remain inadequately empowered to leverage the potential of the land to which they have been given access, access on its own is not enough. For the past 13 years Zimbabwe has been a net importer of basic food commodities we believe largely due to the result of the negative impact of the fast track land reform programme on investor confidence.
With the continued uncertaininty of the land 13 years on we are left with an agriculture sector in turmoil. The rural infrastructure is collapsing, thousands of kilometers of fencing have been removed, conservation land laws are being openly disregarded with dire environmental consequences, earthen dam walls are becoming unstable due to little or no maintenance over the period all leading to the well publicised serious agricultural deficits as well as mass migration from rural land to the towns and cities, putting those very towns and cities under increasing infrastructural pressure.
We are now in the middle of the 2013/2013 agricultural season and despite the recent good rains we will again be turning to the donor community for food assistance.
As a farming community in partnership with our government it is our combined duty and responsibility to supply raw materials for industry and export as well as to adequately feed the nation. We are quite clearly failing. We at the CFU firmly believe that this situation need not continue and that a solution to this crisis can be found.
Such a solution must be fair, all inclusive, focused and implementable in the short term. It must re-establish an active land market on the back of which a strong financial industry can be established. It must be investor friendly so as to attract foreign investment lines to within our borders.
It must provide a platform upon which all sectors can thrive; it must also re-establish lost values placing those values back into the economy for the benefit of all. This solution must re-establish the basic fundamental foundations needed for rapid economic recovery and economic gain those being sound property rights.
We at the CFU have over the past two years been working together with our many partners in forming such a proposal and we now feel that we can offer a proposal which offers a fair and pragmatic solution which if engaged will have the ability to take this country forward for the betterment of all.
Zimbabwe over the last 13 years has been left behind in terms of technologies infrastructural development and economic growth whilst our neighbours around us have forged ahead. Is it not now time to change our direction. As a country we are geographically and strategically placed to take full advantage of the rising global food demand together with the rising commodity prices. We have as a country massive potential to take advantage of this phenomena.
We at the CFU invite government and others to engage with us as we offer this proposal that we believe can be instrumental in bringing a lasting and national beneficial outcome to the land reform process.
C J TAFFS
17 JANUARY 2013