HON. MATHE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My question is directed to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Hon. Dr. Masuka. My question is with regards to what he indicated to us some few years ago that his offices are downsizing big farms for reallocation to other farms. How long does the process take and what criteria are they going to use to resettle other farmers? Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, WATER, CLIMATE AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. DR. MASUKA): Mr. Speaker Sir, I thank the Hon. Member for the question although I would request that the question be translated so that I clearly get it. My Ndebele is not good.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Basically, you have been on a programme of downsizing farms in order to redistribute them. What have you done so far in terms of that exercise because people want land for resettlement?
HON. DR. MASUKA: Mr. Speaker Sir, I thank the Hon. Member for that question and I thank you for the translation. It is Government policy to redistribute the land and we have five categories of land that we are looking at. The first is multiple farm owners, the second is abandoned farms, the third is underutilised farms, the fourth is derelict farms and the fifth is productive farms.
The maximum farm size per ecological region has been set but in terms of the current policy guidance, that policy has been suspended to allow for production. So, a farm that is beyond a maximum farm size if it is productive will not be downsized for now. The focus is on multiple farm ownership, abandoned, underutilised and derelict. The responsibility to identify such farms lies with our District Lands Officers who then relay this to the District Lands Committee who recommends to the Provincial Lands Committee and then forward that to the Ministry for processing of offer letters. This is an ongoing process.
Mr. Speaker Sir, we have recently refined the guidelines for the Provincial Lands Committees and the District Lands Committees so that they can accelerate the process of identification of these underutilised and derelict farms for downsizing purposes in order that we can give this to deserving Zimbabweans. Having said so Mr. Speaker Sir, the bulk of the land that is available has been redistributed. We have 18 000 A2 farmers who are beneficiaries and 360 000 A1 farmers. We have a waiting list of over 200 000 applicants already waiting for land. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. MATHE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. My supplementary question is; right now a number of farms are lying idle which indicates that these farms are being underutilised. What programmes are in place within the Ministry to make sure that people utilise these farms? Thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Minister, as you drive around you come across farms with plenty of grass there with no agricultural activity. This has been observed in the last five years. What are you doing about such a situation?
HON. DR. MASUKA: Mr. Speaker Sir, thank you for that interpretation and I thank the Hon. Member for asking that question. In order to assist Government to accelerate the identification of the various categories of farms that I have indicated in terms of the target for re-distribution, we have also starting this season requested A1 and A2 farmers to submit productivity returns and the deadline was 15th February. Mr. Speaker Sir, we requested them to submit these productivity returns in summer so that it becomes evident which farms are not utilised but we also requested that they provide the reasons why the farms may not be fully utilised. So it is based on those returns and the current activity of identifying the five categories of farms that is taking place that will lead to the acceleration of the land redistribution process. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
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