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Zimbabwe: We can't feed nation - "new" farmers confess

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Farmers who benefited from President Robert Mugabe’s chaotic and corrupt land “reform” programme, which was ostensibly meant to empower disadvantaged blacks, have confessed that they do not have the capacity to feed the nation.

The farmers, under their umbrella body Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe (CFUZ), said this during a meeting with seed producers in Harare last week, and confirmed what has long been held as true – that Mugabe’s land reform crippled the vital agriculture sector and led to food insecurity.

“We do have challenges. Because of the land reform many farmers are not fully equipped. The private sector initiative cannot meet the national requirements,” said CFUZ President Donald Khumalo. He said the “new” farmers lacked the equipment to utilise fully the vast acres of land that currently lie idle or are underutilised. This has led to food insecurity and a situation where the country is forced to import maize from countries it used to supply before the violent land invasions that began in 2000.

Grain Millers Association (GMA) Chairman Tafadzwa Musarara said Zimbabwe was currently importing food from Zambia and Malawi – and had been doing so since 2000. “This does not mean that we do not have enough maize. But there are some NGOs that bought maize and are not willing to sell. People are free to sell or keep the maize. We are importing because we want to supplement what we have,” said Musarara.

The US-funded Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) has warned that about 1.7 million Zimbabweans will need food aid during the next two months.


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