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Black Farmers Partner with Whites to Boost Yields

An armed youth mans the gates of a farm which was seized from white farmers in Chegutu in 2010 (File).
Some struggling beneficiaries of Zimbabwe’s land reform programme in Mashonaland West province have started working with evicted white commercial farmers in an attempt to boost crop production on their farms.

They say this move is designed to boost food security in a nation that has been battered by perennial droughts and resulted in poor harvests.

Speaking during a meeting in Chinhoyi over the weekend, many so-called “A2 farmers” said they have already started working with evicted commercial farmers who bring technical expertise needed to boost crop yields.

Most A2 farmers said they have failed to have decent harvests since white commercial farmers were displaced in 2000 under the land reform programme spearheaded by Zanu-PF.

Some black farmers who have not yet engaged displaced white farmers said they may be willing to do so as they face serious challenges on their farms, many of which have now become fallow due to lack of farming knowledge and agricultural inputs. However, there may be a political risk. The Zanu-PF Politiburo has threatened to evict black farm owners who partner with displaced white commercial farmers.

The Benefits Outweigh the Risks

A2 farmers who work with displaced whites said working with the evicted commercial farmers have seen their harvests increase tremendously.

Alexander Muringani, is a seed maize farmer in Chitomborwizi area in Makonde, said he got a lot of help from displaced white commercial farmers during the past two agricultural seasons.

Another farmer, who asked not to be identified by name for fear of reprisals, said farming is a business, and saw nothing wrong with working white farmers in order to keep his business alive. The farmer said he also learnt new skills from evicted farmers.

Most of them said that they meet with white commercial farmers at night and admitted they have denounced the same whites in political meetings and Zanu-PF rallies.

They noted that most farms run by Zanu-PF stalwarts, who grabbed white commercial farms at the height of Zimbabwe’s land reforms, are run by white managers.

They said as a result, some of the politicians are making good harvests every year as the managers used to work for the displaced white commercial farmers.

The farmers also blamed the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) for failing them as many remain unpaid for deliveries made last year.

They said this is preventing them from preparing adequately for the upcoming agricultural season.