Only free market economy can revive agric

HARARE - Unconfirmed reports in the past few weeks that Zanu PF bigwigs and some command agriculture beneficiaries are abusing inputs availed to them endorses our suspicions that the Soviet-style initiative to shore up maize production does not work.

Under the special programme, the government identified farms that will be required to produce maize for the next three years as the country moves to reduce grain imports and improve food security.

While we agree that the idea is a noble one, history has shown us command agriculture, like command economy, has not worked anywhere in the world. For instance, command agriculture was at the centre of collective farms that were led by the Russians during the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and it failed spectacularly.  Authoritarian regimes in China, Hungary, North Korea and Czechoslovakia used the same concept and in all these cases, it backfired.

In addition to stifling creativity and diversification among farmers, command agriculture reinforces a dependency syndrome. In most cases, it is not easy for farmers to get out of contract arrangements. A good example is how tobacco farmers are locked in contract agreements in ways that make it impossible for them to be self-reliant.

Cotton farmers have been in the same situation for years now and their current despicable state is there for all to see. In a free market economy, after three farming seasons, farmers should be able to stand on their own legs.

It is also a public secret that prevailing market conditions in Zimbabwe — caused by years of Zanu PF-led government’s misrule and mismanagement of the economy — are not conducive to any form of business, including agriculture.

The high cost of finance, the interest rates of over 20 percent, high electricity and erratic supplies, poor infrastructure and poor rain seasons are factors are factors that farmers take into account.

With the rate of non-payment of delivered maize to Grain Marketing Board, sane farmers are not happy with the experience of delivering their maize to the corrupt and bankrupt parastatal.

This is why most farmers have gone into cash crops, including tobacco, barley, wheat and livestock products, which the government has no control over.

Instead of forcing people to farm, the government should address the current food shortages by giving farmers land leases, which will allow them to borrow money from banks and let the farmers have freedom to control their land and agricultural activities.

Comments (1)

Exactly. We have to run this country with good productive policies and not these pseodo Marxist ones.

Young Zimbo - 2 December 2016

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