The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Govt Urged to Craft Policy On Contract Farming

Zanu-PF legislator Cde Paddy Zhanda yesterday urged Government to craft a holistic policy on contract farming and dispelled notions in some quarters that issuing title deeds to resettled farmers would address funding challenges in the sector. Cde Zhanda is House of Assembly representative for Goromonzi North and also chairs the Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion Portfolio Committee.

He said this while responding to an assertion by economist Mr John Robertson during Parliament's post budget seminar in Harare. Mr Robertson had said lack of title deeds was affecting funding for agriculture.

"While title deeds are important, lending of yesteryear (during the era of white farmers) was based on faith and trust, even communal farmers who produced the bulk of maize did not and do not have title deeds.

"If you look at what is happening for tobacco, barley and cotton, there is contract farming and people are getting loans but they do not have title deeds. Government needs to spell out clearly on this policy on contract farming," he said.

He said farmers in Mozambique were getting improved yields and funding although most of them did not have title deeds.

"The cost of borrowing should also be addressed because currently it is high . . . with or without title deeds borrowing is difficult," he said.

Cde Zhanda said Government should come up with policies to curb the flooding of agricultural produce from abroad, adding that that was killing the potential of local farmers.

Speaking at the same event president of the Zimbabwe Chiefs Council, Chief Fortune Charumbira, said there was a need for Government to adopt a few achievable priorities.

"We know our issues and what is wrong in our country but what we lack is implementation.

"The minister talked of a 15-point plan but anyone who has studied Strategy will know that if you have six or seven areas you will have lost it. We need to identify at least 20 percent of those issues that can have 80 percent impact on the population," he said.

In his address to the parliamentarians, Zimbabwe Economic Planning and Research Unit executive director Dr Gibson Chigumira, said the influx of foreign goods was impacting negatively on the manufacturing sector, saying for as long as the scenario prevailed the country's economy would not grow.

"The manufacturing sector is going down and there is no country that has developed without manufacturing. It is the only sector that has sustainable growth, agriculture is dependent on weather, while minerals are dependent on international prices that we do not have control over," he said.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti last week presented a US$3,8 billion budget with an expected growth of five percent that is, however, dependent on the country having a successful farming season.

Although some new farmers have made it with some farming inputs sponsored by Government before, records show that misguided elements abused the inputs by selling them to others after inflating prices.

There were some farmers who abused machinery distributed under the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's farm mechanisation programme while others sold to motorists on highways diesel meant for farming.

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