The Herald (Harare)

1 February 2014

Zimbabwe: Chombo Hails Zimpapers Boss

Farmers who benefited from the land reform programme have been urged to fully use their land, a Cabinet minister has said.

At a field day hosted by Zimpapers chief executive Mr Justin Mutasa at his Chinomwe D8 Extension Farm in Raffingora yesterday, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo said increased productivity on farms would help meet goals set in the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset).

Dr Chombo is the Acting Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister.

"We should have farmers of his (Mr Mutasa's) calibre who take farming seriously because by doing so we justify the land reforms. If you have failed, come through and we will allocate the farm to others who are on the waiting list.

"Mr Mutasa has managed to grow tobacco which the white man said was too complicated for indigenous farmers. He has shown that if a black man is given an opportunity he can deliver," he said.

Dr Chombo said indigenisation should spread to the Tobacco Sales Floors, which remain in the hands of foreigners.

He commended Mr Mutasa for taking good care of his employees by paying their electricity bills and giving them bonuses.

Mr Mutasa said farming must spearhead economic recovery.

"We hope to have a bumper harvest this year. If our agriculture improves the liquidity crisis which is facing the country will come to an end," he said.

Mr Mutasa urged banks to give farmers loans on favourable terms.

"Farmers and banks should build trust. If a bank extends a loan to farmers they can follow up and see if the farmer is putting the money to good use," he said.

Mr Mutasa castigated buyers who were conniving to buy tobacco at US$4,99 per kg from individual farmers while paying more to contract farmers.

He said the auction system is the most transparent and professional way of selling tobacco.

Mr Mutasa urged farmers to insure their crops against risk.

The Zimpapers boss planted 24 hectares of tobacco and plans an additional six next season.

Mr Mutasa gave Dr Chombo, the guest of honour, one heifer from his herd of 102.

The field day was organised by the Tobacco Sales Floors.

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