Farmers must start producing

HARARE - It has never been more important than now that the beneficiaries of Zimbabwe’s land reform programme stop playing with farming and start engaging in the very serious business of producing enough food for Zimbabwe.

It’s only been three and half years since we were all flocking across the borders to buy our daily staples because there wasn’t a loaf of locally-produced bread or bag of maize meal.

We might now be taking the loaf of bread and a bag of roller meal that we buy in a local supermarket for granted, but we aren’t fooled about where most of the raw ingredients come from.

Just travel 10 minutes out of any centre, in any direction.

Head high grass and dilapidated farms provide damning proof: we still aren’t growing those raw ingredients in our daily meals, they are imported.

Finally one of the most senior figures in Zanu PF has dared to speak out about our disgraceful inability to grow our own food 12 years after land redistribution.

By breaking the ice on the sacred topic, vice President John Nkomo has opened the door for all our leaders to follow, regardless of their political affiliations.

In a speech read on his behalf at a field day in Murehwa recently, Nkomo was very outspoken about the inability of the land beneficiaries to grow enough food to support the population.

“The land was the major reason we waged the liberation war,yet 32 years after independence, people have not yet started fully exploiting it."

“We want to end the embarrassment of perennially surviving on food imports from such countries as Malawi and Zambia that used to depend on us for their food security.”

The vice president said it wasn’t just a matter of accessing resources, but it needed “individual effort and innovation to boost productivity and justify the implementation of the agrarian revolution.”

At the same function Zanu PF’s Dzikamai Mavhaire was quoted as being equally outspoken. “The time for slogans and singing war songs has since passed. What we are facing now is a new but different war.

“It is a war whose weapon is the hoe.”

It has been more than a decade since Zimbabwe produced enough staple food for the population.

Every year, despite the incessant insults Zanu PF throw at the West, we hold out our begging bowls to the international community.

This year 1,6 million Zimbabweans need international food aid — this is 60 percent more than the number of people who needed food aid last year. With just two months before the next planting season it is imperative that this year we get it right.

Whether we like it or not, what happens in America and Europe directly affects Zimbabwe and that’s a frightening prospect this cropping season.

America is presently gripped by a chronic drought which is having a devastating impact on their maize crop. Being described as America’s worst drought in more than half a century, experts have already started warning of a global increase in food prices.

The Financial Times warned last week that: “The failure of the US corn crop will hit the world’s food manufacturers.”

News of America’s failed maize crop is already causing a dramatic increase in the demand for wheat in Europe.

Wheat prices in London and Paris rose by a third in the last month and consumers are being warned bread prices will rise to cover increased production costs.

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