Godfrey Marawanyika/Augustine Mukaro
GOVERNMENT is next week expected to sign an agricultural agreement with China that could see vast tracts of land being ceded to the fast-growing nati
The deal, envisaged to boost agricultural production, should be signed on November 8 and will be guaranteed by the Ministry of Finance.
The deal will be in two phases. The first component is a direct government-to-government agreement while the other has an element of private sector participation.
Government is expected to enlist private sector participation under the Zimbabwe Development Company, represented by Zimbabwe Farmers Union vice-president Edward Raradza.
Government-owned China State Farms Agribusiness Corporation and the ZDC are set to sign the partnership agreement early next week, aimed at reviving several derelict former white farms that were taken over by the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority.
The loss-making quasi-government agricultural arm acquired about 20 estates during the land reform programme. Among the expropriated estates where joint ventures are expected to be undertaken are Kondozi Farm, 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, Bosbury and Essex in Mashonaland West.
Reserve Bank authorities have been advocating the promotion of ventures between new farmers, former operators as well as new investors to increase productivity and hasten skills transfer.
Agriculture minister Joseph Made confirmed that there were a number of initiatives taking place. These initiatives, he said, are on an individual company basis while others were joint-venture agreements between the two countries.
“There are various private sector initiatives which will be represented by Edward Raradza of Farmers World and others,” Made said. Farmers World is mainly engaged in the sale of farm inputs.
“Government projects will be guaranteed by the Ministry of Finance. Everything is being handled by them.”
Yesterday, Raradza confirmed the deal but refused to give further details on the proposed agreement saying: “Why are you in a rush? Just wait for next week.”
Government’s chaotic land reform programme that involved the forcible take over of white-owned commercial farms to “correct colonial land ownership imbalances” has been a recipe for disaster. It has reduced Zimbabwe from a net grain exporter to a net importer in a space of five years.
Agricultural production levels dropped sharply as commercial farmers took their skills to countries as far flung as Nigeria, Zambia and Mozambique.