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White Farmers: We Can Help Revitalize Economy

White commercial farmers are asking the unity government to support a proposal they say will help revive the agricultural sector. The first step is for the government to compensate them for the farmland they have lost to land reform since 2000.

Charles Taffs, chairman of the Zimbabwe’s Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), said the seizure of 12 million hectares of commercial farm land his members held under free hold title was seen as a blow to property rights, which lowered investor confidence not only in agriculture, but all sectors of the economy.

Mr. Taffs said the TFU’s proposal would promote a stable and competitive agricultural business environment and provide advice and support to new land owners.

These bonds would be used as collateral to obtain loans that would allow former farmers to invest money into the economy. He said once the bonds had been issued, the former farmers would cede the more than 5,000 title deeds they have to the land bank. These deeds could then be sold to the beneficiaries of the land reform program.

Asked about how much compensation farmers were expecting, Taffs said that would depend on the evaluation.

Taffs said Zimbabwe has recorded huge economic losses over the last 13 years and it was time for white farmers to and the government to work together and move forward. He said CFU consulted government ministries and many potential partners to craft the proposal that they believe can revive the country’s agriculture quickly.

Since fast track land reform in 2000 led to huge declines in agricultural outputs in Zimbabwe, the country has become a net importer of basic food commodities.

Only about 10% of 4, 200 white commercial farmers remain on their land. Fewer than 5% are as active as they were before 2000, when the fast track land reform program began.