Thursday, September 22, 2005

Confiscated farms not being used....

Zimbabwe's central bank governor has described as "criminal" the under-utilisation of land by local farmers who benefited from the government's controversial land redistribution, the Herald newspaper said on Wednesday.

The official daily said Gideon Gono told parliament's land reform and agriculture committee that no amount of finance could make agriculture successful until land was fully exploited.

"It is criminal the manner in which we are using land," Gono said. "We only need to understand that our neighbour South Africa can achieve 5 to 8 tonnes of maize per hectare or even 15 tonnes a hectare using irrigation and here we are priding ourselves at 0.5 tonnes per hectare."

Zimbabwe is mired in its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1980, blamed on President Robert Nugabe's policies -- particularly the seizure of white-owned farms for the resettlement of landless blacks.

Agricultural output has fallen sharply, leaving the former breadbasket of the region with severe food shortages and an economy that has shrunk over 30 percent in the past five years.....

Critics say the land reforms have largely benefited Mugabe's cronies, most of whom have neither the will nor the know-how to engage in productive farming.

The government has acknowledged that some senior officials have amassed farms that they are not fully utilising, but says Zimbabwe's food shortage has largely resulted from drought.

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