Friday, January 06, 2006

Shortage of farm workers due to low wages....

Despite heavy rains for almost a month, new farmers have complained that besides a scarcity of labour, shortages of fertiliser, fuel and seed could lead to a poor harvest.But new farmers are underpaying their labourers, asserts GAPWUZ, which represents up to 60,000 farm workers in the country. GAPWUZ secretary-general Gertrude Hambira told IRIN that some members had turned to illegal gold panning and informal trade."Quite a large number of the new farmers are failing to pay government sanctioned wages, and this is driving away farm workers. It has to be remembered that farm workers buy from the same shops as other citizens," she commented.Some farmers were paying monthly wages as low as US $6 against the required $20, said Hambira. In the face of rising inflation, the union is currently lobbying for at least $35 a month. Last month, inflation shot from 411 percent to 502.4 percent.However, the farmers have countered that they do not have the cash to pay the required wages. Davidson Mugabe, president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union, said some new farmers were struggling to keep up with payments, calling into question the viability of their plots."It has to be borne in mind that ... the new farmers are just starting off and they are also having problems to establish themselves. Some of them are still waiting to receive their bank loans and this calls for the need to re-adjust by both parties," said Mugabe.According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, a government-funded consumer rights watchdog, an average Zimbabwean family currently requires about $200 a month to survive.Under the Zimbabwean government's fast-track land reform programme in 2000 most of Zimbabwe's white commercial farmers, who owned 75 percent of productive land, were removed from their farms to make way for landless blacks, who had been crowded into overused land, mostly in communal areas, to which they were moved during colonial rule.

No comments:

Free hit counters
Free hit counters