GOVERNMENT has given a number of farms seized from white commercial farmers during the land reform programme to the Chinese as incentives for them to start business ventures in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has been pursuing a “Look East” policy to replace traditional trading partners in the West after a major fallout following President Mugabe’s hotly-disputed election victory in 2002.
Highly placed sources said the Chinese government-owned China State Farms Agribusiness Corporation (CSFAC) would revive several derelict former white-owned farms as well as clear vast tracks of virgin land for farming projects.
Farmers in the Mashonaland West province said the Chinese had already moved onto four estates in the Mazvikadei and Biri dam areas where they are busy clearing farmland.
“The Chinese are at Fenemere and Dalkeith farms near Mazvikadei dam,” one farmer said.
“They have moved onto Clydesdale and Liverdale farms along Biri dam as well.”
The farmer said speculation was rife that the Chinese wanted to set up plantations for trees from which oil could be extracted.
The Chinese have been linked to partnership deals with the quasi-government agricultural arm, the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) and the Zimbabwe Development Company owned by ZFU vice president Edward Raradza, in an initiative aimed at reviving former white farms that were taken over by Arda.
Arda has moved onto about 20 estates since the land reform programme started over five years ago but has little to show for its presence.
Among the expropriated estates where the joint ventures are expected to be undertaken are the highly contested Kondozi Estate, now lying derelict in the Odzi area of Manicaland, Foyle Estate in the rich Mazowe valley, Charter Estate in the Beatrice area, Greaslee in the Goromonzi district, Charleswood Estate, taken from former MDC MP Roy Bennett in Chimanimani, and Bosbury and Essex farms in Mashonaland West.
Central bank authorities have been advocating the promotion of ventures between new farmers and former operators as well as new investors to boost production and hasten skills transfer.