Zimbabweans should stop whining and till the land to beat sanctions


Although Africa Check disputes the statement that Zimbabwe was the breadbasket of Africa, it says that in the 40 years between 1960 and 2000, Zimbabwe was a net exporter of maize in most years.

It produced 6% of the maize on the continent between 1960 and 1980, remaining with a surplus of 400 000 tonnes of maize a year.

This declined to 5% during the first 20 years of Mugabe’s rule but Zimbabwe still remained a net exporter of maize in most years.

Zimbabwe’s share of maize production on the continent dwindled to an average of 2% between 2001 and 2016, Africa Check says. The country’s maize consumption outpaced production by an average of 550 000 tonnes per year – turning it into a net importer.

The decline in maize production, ironically, coincided with the introduction of the fast-track land reform programme when Zimbabwe took over land from white commercial farmers, which was also the same time that the European Union and the United States slapped Zimbabwe with sanctions.

The West attributes the drop in production to the land reform programme while the Zimbabwean government blames sanctions.

One study, however, showed that during the first decade of independence Zimbabwe was able to feed itself and had enough reserves to feed the nation for more than three years. Its small grains could last the country eight years.

The bulk of the maize was produced by communal farmers who benefitted from the land reform programme and got more land. Their production rose from 10 percent at independence to 60 percent by 1986.  This was reversed when the International Monetary Fund told Zimbabwe to get rid of its reserves because they were costing the Grain Marketing Board too much.  Zimbabwe was advised to sell its maize reserves and keep cash instead.

Bishop Mutendi believes that Zimbabwe can do it once again because “our faith in our God is bigger and stronger that the fear that our enemies are trying to instill in us”.

And with the government’s three-pronged approach to agriculture which caters for every farmer, from one without draught power to the highly mechanized, Zimbabwe can easily regain its breadbasket status.


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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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