Harvest of hunger looms

The rains have begun, the soils are wet, the temperatures high and yet only weeds are growing as each precious day ticks past. All around us peasant farmers in the communal areas and new farmers on seized commercial land, have still not been given seeds to plant. It is ludicrous that five years into

Zimbabwe’s land take-overs, these new farmers are still unable to plough the land they were allocated or even buy their own seed.

In a country where inflation is over 400% and great convoys of trucks stream endlessly over our borders bringing in food in from other countries, Zimbabwe it seems is not even going to try and save herself this year. The question that every Zimbabwean asks their neighbour in November is how much rain they’ve had and how their crop is doing.

It doesn’t matter if the crop is a few lines of maize plants in the back garden, seven acres in the rural village or 100 acres on a farm. This year, the answer to the question is – what crop. When you ask new farmers or rural villagers how their crop is coming on, they say they haven’t planted yet and are still waiting for the government to come and give them seed. If you comment that it’s a month into the growing season and virtually too late to plant, they sigh and shrug their shoulders and say there is nothing to do.

So far, weve had six inches of rain and have the makings of a perfect season. “It’s looking good for farmers,” I said to one man this week, but he just shook his head, laughed sadly and said “But these farmers – they are playing, just playing!”

To make this desperate crisis even worse, there continue to be seizures of the few productive farms still operating. Every day we hear of another farmer being evicted by some arbitrary bloke who arrives with “a letter from the government”. As it has for five years, these evictions happen just after the farmer has planted the crop, when the fields are covered with newly germinated seed. It is plain, outright theft of another man’s labour, seed and fertilizer and yet no one does anything because it is political.

This week the former president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries Kumbirai Katsande said:

As we sit right here I do not hear any senior government official condemning the farm invasions which are taking place across the country…It’s criminal when we do not do what we are supposed to do.

A harvest of hunger in 2006 seems inevitable and yet all our combined leaders talk about is the Senate. Until next week, Ndini shamwari yenyu

Post published in: Opinions

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