CFU to work with govt on land reform

Only 200 white commercial farmers are actively engaged in farming activities, the Commercial Farmers Union has confirmed.

The once-powerful farming association had more than 4 500 members before the controversial land resettlement programme began in 2000.

Marc Carrie-Wilson, CFU's Legal Affairs Manager, told The Zimbabwean in an exclusive interview that the few farmers left were trying their best to restore agricultural production to its1980s glory days, when Zimbabwe was known as the bread basket of southern Africa.

"The major problem facing the commercial farming sector in Zimbabwe today is lack of finance and knowledge. The agricultural colleges are not producing farmers who want to farm but those who view farming as a hobby," he said.

He said the union’s new President, Charles Taffs, was overseeing a major change in direction for the organisation. This comes as many believe the CFU has lost direction and “should be abandoned".

"I really don't think so," Carrie-Wilson said. "Maybe the disgruntled individuals are saying so because we now have a new President who is very strong."

He said there was now new thinking within the CFU and it was working with the government to restore agricultural production.

During the 1980s, Zimbabwe held the SADC Food Security Portfolio, which led to President Robert Mugabe winning the coveted US$100 000 cash Prize for Sustainable Hunger from the United States of America.

But the country is now more of a basket case and has to regularly beg from its "poor" neighbours, many of whom ironically benefited from Zimbabwean commercial farmers who were forced to leave their land when Mugabe and Zanu (PF) henchmen grabbed most commercial farmland for their own purposes.

The so-called “land reform” programme, heavily criticised by the West, resulted in the country being isolated from the international community and targeted sanctions were then slapped on some 200 Zanu (PF) individuals.

"Things have now changed," said Carrie-Wilson said. "The CFU has changed and we are working with the government on land reform."

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