The big lie – former Zimbabwean white farmers are not driving maize production in Zambia



The claim that white ex-Zimbabwean farmers are responsible for Zambia’s maize surplus, and that they are now feeding Zimbabwe, is made frequently. Even President Mugabe has repeated that claim, telling a Bindura rally in March that Zambia had a maize surplus after taking on white Zimbabwean farmers.

That put him in agreement with the likes of Jan Lamprecht, a controversial journalist on white supremacist website: AfricanCrisis, who in 2004 said of the fortunes of white farmers in Zambia: “Finally, a success story in Africa – one that boggles the mind, and as usual, for Africa, it comes from whites. This story demonstrates the tremendous knowledge and skills which white commercial farmers have over the black peasant farmers. Take note in this story that 100 white farmers, starting from scratch, in Zambia, produced 70 percent of Zambia’s maize crop in one year. They outperformed, 150 000 black peasants.”

Zambia maize production

In 2014, then Zambia agriculture minister Wilbur Simuusa announced Zambia would harvest a record 3.3 million tonnes of maize. It is the reportage from his press statement that is now being recycled as current and shared widely on Zimbabwean social media. In the 2014/2015 season, Zambia maize output fell 22 percent due to drought. After improved rains eased El Nino fears this year, however, Lubinda told Parliament early May that Zambia would produce 2.8 million tonnes this year, some 635 000 tonnes more than the country needs.

Are Zimbabwean white farmers behind this?

According to a 2015 World Food Programme’s purchase for progress (P4P) bulletin, smallholder farmers account for 90 percent of national maize production in Zambia.

Official statistics also show that while commercial farmers are growing their maize output – they increased hectarage by 80 percent in the last season – smallholder farmers continue to produce more.  In 2002/3, small to medium scale farmers produced more than twice the maize produced by commercial farms. By 2010, small scale producers were producing eight times more. In the 2009/10, season, smallscale farmers produced 2.5million tonnes of maize in Zambia, compared to 306 540 tonnes by the commercial sector.

The claim that “white former Zimbabwean farmers are feeding Zimbabwe” is therefore not true.

Zambia has, however, gained from white farmers as they are more responsible for the country’s growing tobacco output.

Continued next page


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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