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With Planting Season At Hand, Zimbabwe Launches New Farm Evictions

Despite a continuing collapse of agricultural activity that has left Zimbabwe chronically short of staple maize and other grains, the government has resumed its offensive against white commercial farmers by issuing eviction orders to 40 more.

Commercial Farmers Union spokeswoman Emily Crookes said that the figure could be higher because some of Zimbabwe's approximately 600 remaining white farmers are not members of her group, and more reports from members might soon arrive. The country had about 3,000 commercial farms before land reform started in 2000.

Crookes said farmers in Mashonaland East were hardest hit by this latest issuance of eviction notices. In Masvingo province, a meeting of the farmers union was invaded by officials from the Ministry of Land Reform who handed out eviction notices.

Crookes said many farmers have been verbally threatened by strangers.

The latest round of evictions comes a month after Minister of State for Land Reform Flora Buka said the government was considering allocating land to 200 former white farmers. Economists and other critics of land reform say such dislocation is to blame for the steep decline of Zimbabwe's agricultural sector and the broad economy.

But Thomas Nherera, a former president of the Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he believes the redistribution of land to small farmers has been a positive development because such smallholders have produced most of the country’s maize for the past 25 years.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...