By Justin Mahlahla
The Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water And Rural Development, Dr Anxious Masuka has urged Zimbabweans to make farming and business and be productive in order to accelerate economic activity for the attainment of Vision 2030.
In a statement on enhancing production, productivity and profitability on A2 and A1 farms, Dr Masuka Government will transform the agriculture sector by making farming a business, while leaving no household, no village and no youth behind, in pursuit of Vision 2030, through the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) and the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy implementation framework.
“Land has become a major economic enabler. And agriculture has become a business. Land and agriculture, therefore, must cause accelerated economic activity for the attainment of Vision 2030. It is in this regard that the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development directed ALL A1 and A2 farmers to submit annual “Production and Productivity Forms” by 15 February each year. The new A2 permit conditions also compel all A2 farmers to provide such returns,” he said.
“May I take this opportunity to remind all applicants for land that land is a finite resource, therefore, not every applicant will get land. However, I wish to highlight that one does not need to have land in order to do business on land. It is in this regard that the Ministry encourages Joint Ventures on unproductive land,” he added.
“A joint Venture database, for the purpose of match-making available underutilised and unproductive land units with potential JV partners is being developed. Farmers are encouraged to register with their nearest AGRITEX Office. Potential JV partners are encouraged to register with the M and E Unit of the Ministry. The forms for farmers and JV partners are obtainable from the M and E Unit.”
According to the minister, Government approved a Joint Venture Agreement Framework which allows investors to undertake farming operations with the consent of Government. It must be emphasised that all Joint Ventures must be approved by the Ministry for them to be legally-binding documents.
Section 18 of the Land Commission Act Chapter 20:29 buttresses this position by asserting that no occupier of state land shall permit occupation, on a share-cropping basis, by another person unless a formal agreement has been entered into between the owner and the occupier with that agreement having been approved by the Minister.
Said Dr Masuka: “Where conversion of agricultural land (such as cropping and/or livestock to forestry) is planned, a special approval from the Ministry must be sought first, before parties can sign the Special Forestry Joint Venture Agreement.
“A different agreement is required to cater for the long term nature of forestry, and the delayed returns on investment but, more importantly, to consider and preserve agricultural land for national food security. All Forestry JVs, whether registered and unregistered with the Ministry, must be submitted to the Ministry by 15 February 2022. Farmers undertaking forestry JVs must clearly indicate this on their Annual Production and Productivity Returns.”
He said the Joint Ventures, which the Government is encouraging, are aimed at increasing production and productivity on farms, adding: “In line with the government thrust to increase agricultural production and productivity, abandoned farms, derelict farms and underutilised farms shall be liable for repossession and redistribution to deserving beneficiaries on the waiting list for land allocation. Holders of such land must consider JVs to quickly bring such land under production.”
Dr Masuka reminded farmers to submit their returns not later than 15 February 2022. The form is obtainable from the Ministry’s Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, email address firstname.lastname@example.org and downloadable from the Ministry Website www.moa.gov.zw, Agricultural Marketing Authority Website www.ama.co.zw or Agricultural Marketing Authority / AGRITEX offices countrywide.