Land reform – Mugabe’s international disgrace

HARARE - The conspicuous absence of A1 and A2 farmers at the just ended Zimbabwe Agricultural Show society's 58th Exhibition has been described by many who passed the gates as a national, regional and international disgrace.

Mugabe embarked on the chaotic land grab exercise in 2000, in which the Zanu (PF) youth militia and war veterans disrupted agricultural productivity and looted agricultural equipment and machinery all in the name of black economic empowerment.

There are doubts over the government’s serious commitment to renewed efforts to boost agricultural productivity at a time when the nation is on the verge of acute mass starvation and malnourishment.

Government has neglected the communal farmers since the land reform programme opting instead to support A1 and A2 farmers with maize, cotton, groundnuts, jatropha seeds, diesel and tractors.

The traditional agricultural equipment and machinery manufacturing companies exhibited under difficult circumstances, knowing that the farmers couldn’t afford to buy any of their products.

Analysts say Zimbabwe’s agricultural revolution has failed. The manner in which land redistribution has been undertaken since 2000 has impacted adversely on food production throughout the country. The Fast Track Reform programme, accompanied by ongoing illegal land occupations begun in 2000, has severely jeopardized national food security.

Visitors to the show were shocked by the Cold Storage Company (CSC) exhibition. The company’s mandate is to support livestock production in the country and supply the export and local domestic market with beef. They had no livestock exhibition at all, yet CSC is bankrolled by the government.

The absence of agricultural training institutions was a glaring discrepancy. They should be churning out agricultural graduates to boost agricultural productivity.

Observers said the government should take measures to ensure that it meets its obligations in terms of Article 11.2 of the Convent on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which declares that the state parties, “recognizing the fundamental rights of everyone to be free from hunger, shall take, individually, and through international co-operation, the measures, including specific programmes which are needed to improve methods of production, conversation and distribution of food.”

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