PERMANENT secretary in the ministry of Finance and Economic development George Guvamatanga says under-performing farmers are partly to blame for the economic challenges the country is currently grappling with.
The country is battling a burgeoning current account deficit and has in recent weeks witnessed widespread shortage of basic commodities such as flour, bread and cooking oil.
Addressing the Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development yesterday Guvamatanga said the country was using the much needed foreign currency on imports which can be produced locally only if large swathes of land that currently lay idle is fully utilized.
“You cannot just be giving land to people to take their relatives for family rituals land is for productive purposes. I actually believe that when someone is issued with a farm they should be a contract between government and the person so that we have a minimum productivity level and if the farmer cannot meet the requirement he moves away and allow those who can to take over the land and produce”.
He said the country was currently spending over US$36m per month on wheat and soyabean imports though these crops could easily be produced in the country if farmers make maximum use of the land at their disposal.
This season Zimbabwean wheat farmers are expected to harvest between 120- 45 thousand metric tonnes of wheat against annual requirement of 400 000metric per annum.
Between 2000 and 2015 production of the crop has declined from 135 415 metric tonnes to 41 768mt.
Guvamatanga a former banker said once production was restored on the farms government will make savings on imports and channel them to upgrading the country’s social services and health care facilities.
“We produce about 2months of wheat and the other 10 months we import and for soyabean we produce about 1 month and we have to import for the rest of the year.
We need US$20m for soyabean and US$16m for wheat a month and as long as we do not till the land this will continue. Imagine if we saved US$36m a month the things I will be able to do, buy desks for our schools and medicines for our hospitals. So I encourage you Honourable members not to wait for the land audit but to go to your constituencies and ensure people are tilling the land”.