Zim communal farmers to get maize seed

agriculture__land_reformHARARE - Zimbabwean communal farmers are set to benefit from a World Bank programme to boost food production in the southern African country that will see a total 300 000 smallholder farmers receive seed packs for the 2009/2010 season.
(Pictured: Zimbabwean communal farmer)

But the programme, targeting about 300 000 households most vulnerable families in rural communities who may not be able to secure inputs for the new farming season, will not be extended to newly resettled farmers because the land they are occupying is under dispute.

“Higher priority will be provided to female headed households, and those with high dependency ratios caused by HIV/AIDS or similar health problems,” the Word Bank said in the project document.

Each household would receive 10kg of certified maize seed, and approximately 275 000 households are expected to benefit while another 250 tonnes of maize seed will be distributed through rural retail shops in exchange for vouchers in the bank’s pilot project to rebuild Zimbabwe’s national seed industry’s retail distribution systems.

“Approximately 25 000 households are expected to gain access to seed through these vouchers,” said the World Bank.

“None of the seed will be distributed in Zimbabwe’s newly resettled areas where land rights may still be contested,” the bank added.

Several white farmers are contesting the seizure of their farms which started in 2000 when President Robert Mugabe embarked on his controversial land reform programme.

The chaotic and often violent land occupations saw thousands of white farmers lose their land to supporters of Mugabe’s ZANU PF party but a Southern African Development Community Tribunal last year ruled in favour of the dispossessed farmers, ordering the Zimbabwean government to let them stay on their land.

Harare has however refused to recognise the ruling.

The seed distribution programme would be implemented by GRM International – a private sector entity – and would distribute approximately 2 750 tonnes of hybrid maize seed sourced from domestic and regional producers of varieties approved for Zimbabwe.

The project would be undertaken within the framework of the British government-funded Protracted Relief Programme (PRP), which is the largest source of agriculture assistance and input distribution for smallholders in Zimbabwe in the past four years.

Post published in: Economy

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