Resettled farmers have defied a directive to submit annual production returns throwing into disarray government’s plan to use the system to resolve land tenure challenges.
The development comes as the government plans to use these as a basis to issue A1 permits and 99-year leases for A2.
Anxious Masuka (pictured), Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development minister said the lack of cooperation from farmers was worrisome. Masuka recommended that a Statutory Instrument (SI) should be gazetted to enforce the directive.
“We recommend that the annual production and productivity returns should be (done) to guide production and investment. An SI should be issued to make it mandatory for A1 and A2 farmers to submit these annual returns,” Masuka said.
He added: “This (submission of returns) is an audit on how the farmers are utilising their land, which will decide whether they deserve to have the entire farms to themselves or should share with others or even be moved to smaller land portions that they can fully utilise.”
In 2021, the government threatened to remove all the farmers who fail to submit the returns forms.
However, farmers have not complied with the directive.
Contacted for a comment, the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Shadreck Makombe said farmers should submit the returns forms, a move that will help government’s planning.
“We urge all farmers, be it A1 or A2, to submit the annual production and productivity return forms on time to fast track the issuance of securitised documents.
“All farmers should submit and you never know the day when others will get the securitised documents,” Makombe said.
Some farmers suggested that the government should use data from the Crop, Livestock, and Fisheries report to assess farmers’ productivity.
“The fact that people fill these forms without monitoring shows that there are so many inconsistencies as the farmer may choose to give false information.
“Why can’t the authorities use the data from the assessments to get a full picture of the farmer’s performance,” Wedza farmer Alious Matimba told this publication.
The development comes as local farmers have stepped up production resulting in Zimbabwe breaking the 1998 tobacco production record of 236m kilogrammes (kg) by producing 261m kgs in 2019.
In 2017, farmers harvested over 3.5m tonnes of grain against a requirement of 1.8m per year.
Some experts say Zimbabwean farmers lack financial support to utilise more land.
This comes against the backdrop of banks’ reluctance to lend due to the absence of collateral.