GOVERNMENT has no appetite to acquire land and is now focused on increasing productivity in the agriculture sector according to minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Perrance Shiri.
The minister said this while addressing investors recently from Netherlands who are interested in horticulture.
“We are not going to touch the land of Dutch farmers protected by Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs) but land that was taken poses a challenge and government will have to compensate the farmers as set out in the constitution. Those who lost land protected by BIPPAS will be compensated for the land and the improvements. But going forward will not tamper with Indigenous and BIPPA farms as our focus are now on productivity”.
Shiri said farmers should now focus on ensuring productivity efficiency as government will in future withdraw subsidies extended to maize producers and other crops.
“The price of maize here is US$390 against regional average of US$140-80 and once we increase productivity government will be forced to reduce prices to regional levels therefore going forward productivity is going to be critical”.
Shiri also defended the government’s command agriculture programme as it had provided a platform for farmers without financial access to kick start their operations and ensure food security in the country.
The programme cost the government in excess of US$500m and those contracted are expected to repay government once they marketed the produce.
Netherlands ambassador to Zimbabwe Barbara Van Hellemond said her country was prepared to invest in Zimbabwe as long as the necessary economic and political reforms are undertaken.
The Netherlands is one of the twenty largest economies in the world and is a leading global knowledge economy.
Its horticulture is a global trendsetter and is concentrated in six clusters, called Greenports, where businesses and research institutions work closely together.
Horticulture makes a significant contribution to the country’s prosperity, through the considerable volumes and sheer quality of production, as well as via technological innovations.
According to Zimtrade, Netherlands is the biggest single buyer of fresh produce accounting for US$32.6m or 45 percent of total horticulture in October 2017.
In 2009 horticulture produce used to account for over 15 percent of exports but the figure has progressively declined to the current meager contributions.
Zimtrade acting chief executive Allan Majuru said there was huge demand for the country horticulture produce in Europe and Asia.