New farmers revel in land reform glory
Vincent Gono, Features Editor
ZIMBABWEAN farmers have shown a positive energy, desire and capability to restore the country to being the bread basket of the region as they revel in the success of the land reform programme which remains the biggest independence achievement.
As the country today celebrates 41 years of independence under the theme, “Together growing our economy for a prosperous, resilient and inclusive society,” those that benefitted from the land reform exercise have success stories to tell, stories of an economically empowered society that are a reflection of a condensation of determination, commitment, passion and vision to reclaim the lost national heritage.
The farmers admit they would not ordinarily been able to tell their tales of grandeur had the land remained in the hands of a few white farmers.
Sunday News visited Cde Adam Dube, a beneficiary of the land reform programme who is into crop farming and livestock.
Cde Dube, a war veteran with an impressive cattle ranching project in his home district of Mangwe in Matabeleland South is also making productive use of his 1,4-hectare plot in Newton West in Bulawayo where he is doing massive horticulture, growing an assortment of crops such as vegetables, onions, tomatoes, green pepper, green peas and beans as well as maize.
He says he does not use chemical fertilisers but applies purely organic farming methods which makes his crops preferred as they taste natural. He is also taking advantage of the ready city market which he says he is failing to service fully. Cde Dube believes there is great potential for Zimbabweans to feed not only themselves but the whole of Africa.
“The potential is great. People have an amazing positive energy. They are willing to work on the land. It may have been slow but the gear that people have engaged now is giving the country the much-needed economic momentum.
People were not given adequate knowledge at the initial stages of the land reform programme, they acquired it while on the land and most of them have moved from doing farming as a pastime to farming as a business, which is encouraging,” said Cde Dube.
He said the land reform was no doubt the biggest independence achievement as it empowered the sons and daughters of the soil with the means of production and unyoked them from political and economic ideological control of the capitalist whites.
Cde Dube, a retired deputy education director in Matabeleland North Province said he was happy that the country’s independence that they fought for managed to bring with it a restoration of the means of production to the majority after years of colonial subjugation. He said colonial laws that were meant to keep the native people oppressed were an oil-soaked rug but the seizure of land from where Africans derived their livelihoods was the matchstick that ignited the liberation bonfire.
“The land reform has remained the biggest independence milestone. It has opened vast economic potential to all those that appreciate its value. That the land question was among the prominent factors that shaped the liberation dogma should not be forgotten and therefore its redress was as important in shaping the true independence and sovereign dignity of the black people,” added Cde Dube.
He is a successful farmer with a herd of more than 300 cattle on his 250-hectare farm in Mangwe District where he was born and bred. According to him, he is what he is today courtesy of agriculture which he said was only possible if one owned the land.
“I grew up in Bango in Mangwe District. Like any other African village boy, we had a herd of cattle which I grew fond of. I liked cattle. They were so ornamental to me. I liked their smell but we no longer had enough land to keep them as they grow in numbers owing to extensive pieces of land having been taken by the colonial regime. I, however, joined the war after qualifying as a teacher which means I already knew exactly what I was fighting for,” he said.
At the beginning of the land reform, Cde Dube applied for a piece of land which he got in Mangwe and put his cattle there. From the proceeds of his cattle, he managed to put up meaningful developments at his Newton West plot. He drilled three boreholes, built a spacious home and acquired a number of assets that enabled him to flex his mind and fulfill his ambitions, something he said was not going to be possible had he remained in the employ of the civil service.
While he is evidently living pretty off his labours, he feels more needs to be done in the marketing of livestock to ensure that farmers get the fair value of the cattle. He said the Government should speedily work on the revival of the Cold Storage Company (CSC) whose death he said was a result of mismanagement and illegal sanctions imposed on the country.
“We have a situation where farmers are getting a raw deal from cattle buyers as they are not included in the marketing matrix of their produce. We are having a situation where farmers are the ones going down to the buyers instead of it being vice-verse. Prices are therefore determined by the buyers and not the farmers. If anything, the farmers have very little say than to accept whatever they are offered which is wrong. Government should therefore come to the rescue of the farmers,” said Cde Dube.
He also urged farmers to make use of weather forecasts as well as veterinary and Agritex officers in their communities to enhance their knowledge saying the Government should be applauded for bringing people with the technical expertise closer to the communities.
Cde Dube also said there was a need for farmers to prepare for drought seasons by making use of abundance of hay to stock feed rather than watching it going up in veldfire smoke.
He added that the renewed hunger for land was born out of the realisation that the land reform was not mere politicking but real and that those who benefitted were now masters of their economic destiny which he said was the import of the liberation struggle.