But goings on in the poultry industry could dampen hopes of a return to ‘breadbasket status’, Zimbabwean journalist Nqobile Bhebhe reports.
New Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa has been ‘hitting the right chords’ on paper but goings on in the poultry industry could dampen hopes of a return to ‘breadbasket status’.
When President Mnangagwa replaced Robert Mugabe in November, he vowed to revive the moribund economy, boost investment and create employment after years of decline.
Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton caused controversy last week when he said white South African farmers deserved ‘special attention’ from Australia due to land seizures and violence.
South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, was pursuing legal changes to allow appropriation of farm lands without compensation for redistribution to black South Africans.
South Africa criticised the suggestions and said it was engaged in a process of land redistribution to ‘address the imbalances of the past’ but it would be done legally, with due consideration of the impact on individuals.
Riding on the wave of excitement, Mr Mnangagwa promptly pronounced ’Zimbabwe is now open for business’.
He pledged to reverse the declining fortunes of the nation’s agricultural sector following the forceful seizure of thousands of white-owned farms carried out by his predecessor.
On paper, Mr Mnangagwa seemed to be hitting the right chords.
Remaining white commercial farmers will now get 99-year land leases, marking a dramatic change from widespread evictions of white people from farms, he said.
But in the poultry industry, day-old chick producers have cried foul over a mandatory Livestock Development Levy introduced in October 2017.
Zimbabwe Poultry Association chairman Solomon Zawe said members had noticed the impact on their businesses.
And failure to import hatching eggs could lead to some producers closing shop.
Pronouncements by Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri farmers should not expect compensation for crops damaged by natural disasters was not well received, with most communal farmers uninsured.
However, relaxation of laws, easy access to capital and acceptance by financial institutions of a range of forms of collateral for infrastructure development might aid the reviving of the sector.
The farming community was keeping a close eye on him.