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EC ready to fund Land Audit

THE European Commission (EC) yesterday said it was prepared to fund a land survey in Zimbabwe if government is willing to implement an “inclusive, transparent, and comprehensive land audit” as provided for in the global political agreement (GPA).

Speaking at a European Union (EU) Food Facility stakeholders meeting in the capital, EC head of delegation to Zimbabwe, Xavier Marchal, said: “We are ready to assist government to implement an inclusive, transparent, and comprehensive land audit as provided for in the GPA, and which should be aimed at resolving the land issue. This is the bigger picture, which cannot be ignored if Zimbabwe’s agriculture is to become highly successful again.”

Lands and Rural Resettlement minister Herbert Murerwa recently said government needed US$30 million to carry out the land audit.

Under the GPA, the parties in the inclusive government agreed that an audit should be carried out during the tenure of the seventh parliament, for the purpose of “establishing accountability and eliminating multiple-farm ownership”.

Marchal said government also needed to own up for the mess in the agricultural sector triggered by the post-2000 chaotic land reform.

“The land reform, as has been conducted, has had catastrophic effects causing the large-scale commercial agricultural sector and with large part of the support industry to collapse almost entirely,” he said. “The small-scale sector which is strongly dependent on the former has also been severely hit and outputs have declined significantly,” he said. “Importantly government has to take its responsibilities. The decline in the agricultural production is indeed related to failing government polices associated with issues relating to the way the land and agrarian reform programme has been conducted. These need to be addressed by government.”

Marchal said the commission would provide 25% of Zimbabwe’s fertiliser needs this agricultural season as part of efforts to lift output and ensure food security.

He said through the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Zimbabwe would receive Euro 15 million for fertiliser requirements.

“This year, EC on behalf of EU, will provide around 25% of all fertilisers needs for smallholder farmers.  This is significant.  Most of this is done through FAO. Input provision is only part of what we do. Indeed, the EC has signed an agreement with FAO, which will provide 15,4 million euros to support self-reliance at small holder farmer level in Zimbabwe,” Marchal said.

He explained that the programme was part of a wider policy aimed at moving this country from dependency on “food aid to food security” while building self-reliance at smallholder farmer level.

The EC said the funds were supposed to ensure maximum impact on household and national food availability and security.

The programme is expected to help 176 000 farmers in traditional grain farming regions.

Marchal said: “Rain can be a blessing, a curse, or even a cover up. But with proper policies, sufficient inputs, and good agricultural techniques, it can become a secondary factor…

“We are significantly supporting rural populations to improve livelihood security. This includes health, water, basic education, and social services. This is done through NGO’s, UN agencies, and government.”

Between 2002 and 2008, the EC on behalf of the EU, committed more than 570 million euros to support the country, mostly in rural areas.

The EC has a strong experience in agriculture in Zimbabwe.

“When and if full normalisation is achieved between the EU and Zimbabwe, as a result of the ongoing political dialogue process launched in Brussels on June 18 by the Prime Minister (Morgan Tsvangirai) and his inclusive delegation, then massive and fully fledged assistance can be unleashed again,” pledged Marchal.

Chris Muronzi

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