FARM equipment worth $75 billion has been either vandalised or stolen since the beginning of land invasions three years ago, the Commercial Farmers Union said last week.
CFU vice-president Mac Crawford said the value of the vandalised equipment jumped by 326% from September last year due to continued illegal evictions of farmers.
“In September 2002, farmers estimated looted and vandalised equipment at $23 billion,” Crawford said.
“This figure has since risen to approximately $75 billion to date. The figure is probably below the actual value of assets because many of the farmers had been evicted from their properties and were not available to estimate the value of movable property damaged or stolen.”
Crawford said farmers’ major concern is the widespread theft and damage of irrigation equipment, tractors and stationary engines vital in the production.
“There is no doubt that the interruptions to farming operations resulting from theft and damage to equipment will result in lower than expected output,” he said.
The agricultural sector has been in free-fall since February 2000 as government implemented its chaotic land reform programme.
The programme resulted in government forcibly acquiring a total 11 million hectares, most of which is sitting idle as the resettled farmers cannot fully utilise it.
The programme brought the formerly vibrant commercial agricultural sector to ruin, which has resulted in acute food and forex shortages while the downstream effects have destabilised the whole economy.
Production in general tumbled by over 70% over the three seasons with areas planted being drastically reduced.