Monday, March 05, 2007

Zimbabwe's government says it intends to end state subsidies for black-owned commercial farms resettled under its controversial land reform policy

BBC News:

Farmers allocated prime land over the past seven years should by now have enough experience to be self-financing, the Central Bank governor said.

New farmers have been warned they could lose land if it is not used properly.

Zimbabwe's food production has plummeted since land reforms that saw thousands of white-owned farms seized.

The US-based Famine Early Warning System warned in January that Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of southern Africa, was facing a maize shortfall of some 700,000 tonnes this year.

Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono told a farmers' meeting that funds for the commercial farmers would be stopped at the end of this year.

"It is now seven years since we reclaimed our land but we continue looking at government for support. Next season we will wean off all A2 [large-scale] farmers as they are now grown-ups," Zimbabwe's Herald newspaper quotes him as saying.

He accused the commercial farmers of failing to repay loans and selling subsidies received from the government.

However, he said the government would continue to fund subsistence farmers.

During his visit to the northern Mashonaland Central province, Mr Gono was told that some farmers had lost their crops because fertiliser and subsidies had reached them late, the Herald reports.

Earlier, Didymus Mutasa - the minister in charge of land reform - repeated a warning that commercial farmers would lose their land if they did not use it efficiently.

President Robert Mugabe launched his agricultural reform programme with the aim of redressing economic imbalances left over from British colonial rule.

But critics say the often violent campaign has devastated Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy.

As well as chronic unemployment, Zimbabwe has the world's lowest life expectancy and highest inflation rate.

Zimbabwe Politician Expelled for Insults


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