Lack of title deeds worries farmers

HARARE - Commercial farmers have lamented lack of security of tenure or title deeds that can enable them to borrow from banks to buy machinery or pay for seasonal expenses such as seeds or fertiliser.

Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) director Peter Benjamin Purcell-Gilpin said that lack of affordable finances stemmed from the issue of land rights and lack of collateral which many farmers do not have due to government policies.

“Access to affordable finance remains a challenge for commercial farmers, the biggest challenge being probably viability because of escalation of costs and there are also issues of security of tenure because banks are reluctant to lend where there is no collateral which is the case across most sectors.

“The options for finance then shift to contractors who supply input finance and also purchase the product,” Purcell-Gilpin said.

The conferring of ownership and control of access to land has been in the hands of the State and this has generally undermined the property rights of farmers thus diminishing investment in the farming sector.

CFU said that skilled farmers require affordable finance for seasonal, medium term and long-term capital development, and full Property rights fully empower the farmer to confer collateral to finance institutions.

Large amounts of land appropriated during the land reform around the 2000s remain unused, while the rest is under-utilised either by unskilled farmers or skilled farmers who are under-financed.

CFU stated that many new farmers have lacked the essential skills required to use the land productively, which has resulted to low yields, debt and a growing and unsustainable dependence of farmers on the state for all forms of funding.

“It would be good for farmers to have the required bundle of rights to land that would enable them to borrow for short medium and long term to develop their farms for agriculture to thrive and attract the level of investment, thus shifting the responsibility of financing farmers from government which relies on tax payers to farmers themselves,” Purcell-Gilpin said.

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