17 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Govt Urged to Stop Land Grabs to End Hunger Crisis

The government is once again facing an urgent appeal to once and for all stop the ongoing illegal seizure of productive farm land across the country, to bring an end to the worsening hunger crisis.

Zimbabwe's once prosperous agricultural sector is again unable to feed the country, after years of chaos caused by the land grab campaign. On Tuesday the United Nations (UN) announced that it needs at least US$131 million in aid for Zimbabwe this year, mainly to meet food assistance demands. The UN said that at least 1.7 million people are facing hunger in the coming year.

The government has repeatedly blamed the failed cropping seasons on the weather, an excuse picked up by the UN on Tuesday.

But Charles Taffs, the President of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that hunger has been brought about by "destructive policies" that have destroyed the farming industry. He said "a line needs to be drawn under the land question," for normality to be returned to the farming sector.

"There is zero confidence in the agriculture sector and the bottom line is there are no property rights and have not been for more than ten years. This has spilled over into a financial reality and we are paying for it now," Taffs said.

He explained that without property rights there will be no meaningful investment in the agricultural sector, and without this investment there can be no local production of food.

"This is a sad and tragic situation that has not been brought about by weather, but by policy. We need to finish it and draw a line under it and bring confidence back to the agricultural sector," Taffs said.

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