THE economic revival of Zimbabwe hinges on the inclusive government fully utilising the land to ensure that the country does not import food.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe Africa Business Opportunities on Tuesday, economist John Robertson said land reform has had a devastating effect on the economy hence the â€œurgent need to partially reverse itâ€.
â€œThe Short Term Recovery Programme (Sterp) would not achieve much as long as the land is still not on the market having no value,â€ he said.
Robertson said the country first needs to recover from the â€œchaotic land reformâ€ which rendered land â€œvalueless and unattractive as collateralâ€.
He said most of the beneficiaries of land had no knowledge or money to farm.
â€œTherefore it is my view that the land reform, although it was needed at one stage, has had a devastating effect on the economy. The value of the land has to be urgently restored,â€ he said.
Robertson said since the land reform started in February 2000 after the rejection of the government-sponsored constitution, the country has been importing more food than it has been producing.
He said beef production had been cut by as much as 75% in the last two years.
â€œThe remaining herds countrywide are now at risk from foot-and-mouth because of the destruction of fencing and the illegal movement of animals from high-risk zones,â€ he said.
On the dairy sector, he said severe losses of dairy cattle had cut milk supplies significantly and its future looked bleak.
Milk production dropped from as high as 250 000 litres in 1999 to just under 50 000 litres last year.
â€œMany dairy cows have been sent for slaughter because of the displacement of farmers and the high cost of stock-feed,â€ he said.
Robertson said if Sterp was to be successful, banks, which used to finance agricultural activities, should be re-capitalised.
â€œBanks need fresh cash injection. As it stands some banks are broke and might soon close. Shareholders need to vigorously scout for money,â€ he said.
He said with banks not financing agriculture, farmers would continue â€œbegging a broke government to finance their activitiesâ€.
BY NQOBILE BHEBHE