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Good land Management Is The Only Way

I READ with great interest the report by Ian Scoons of the University of Middlesex entitled “Myths about land reform” (Zimbabwe Independent September 19).

It would appear as if he had collaborated with the University of the Western Cape to seek justification for the expropriation plans in South Africa.

In the attempt to expose the myths he revealed a grim picture of the A1 situation in Masvingo and an even grimmer one for the A2s, but believes that there are some grounds for optimism. He appears to be unaware of the limitations placed on agriculture by the five differing ecological regions of Zimbabwe.

If these are ignored there can be no hope of ever restoring sustainability and prosperity to agriculture in Zimbabwe.

The incontestable fact of the matter is that the land grabs and following fragmentation of prosperous farm land is the main cause of economic meltdown and is an indirect cause of the bitter polarisation of the nation.

That is the position on the ground unless one believes that targeted travel bans and sudden change in weather patterns due to global warming brought the country to bankruptcy in six years.

Before land reform, commercial agriculture provided the core business of Zimbabwe.

When it was deliberately looted and gutted by government officials the subsidiaries, commerce and industry, tourism and mining all staggered and began a downward spiral which is accelerated to this day.

When government robbed the subsidiaries to prop up land reform the company failed. In consequence the government has been voted out by the shareholders but refuses to submit, fearing retribution for its misdeeds.

While most of the expertise which drove commercial agriculture has gone, the models of land use pioneered by it over 100 years are there to be resuscitated.

If all aspects are followed that is, secure tenure of the correct sized units, low interest short and long term finance made available, irrigation and good marketing in place, submitting all operations to the supervision of an independent natural resources board with strong powers such as the previous farmers willingly submitted themselves to.

Only then does turnaround become possible. The process will however be a protracted bumpy ride over decades and will require substantial international aid.

Des Wiggill,

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