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Government has commended small scale and communal farmers for their contribution towards national food security and the economy. Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora said in an interview that A1 farmers and communal farmers were more productive compared to A2 farmers who owned large tracts of land.

He said small scale farmers were the major producers of maize, cotton and had of late become the major producers of tobacco.

“A1 farmers work very hard despite the several challenges they are faced with,” said Minister Mombeshora.

“They cannot access funding from banks as most of them do not have the required collateral, but still under those hard conditions they have managed to produce for the nation using own resources. Cases of underutilisation of land are very minimum in the A1 sector as the farmers utilise between 70 and 99 percent of their farms. We have had problems with some A2 farmers who are under-utilising their farms while others sublet the farms for a fee.

“Statistics have shown that most of the food is produced by small scale farmers and the bulk of the tobacco that was sold this season came from the A1 and communal farmers.”

Minister Mombeshora said production levels at the A1 farms were evidence that the land reform had empowered farmers.

He said the country was expecting a maize yield of above 1,4 million tonnes and the large proportion was coming from the small scale farmers who had received inputs under the Presidential Well Wishers Inputs Scheme.

“If given inputs, small scale farmers put them to good use. We are going to ask farmers with large tracts of land that are not being fully utilised to volunteer the land for subdivision.”

He complained that some illegal settlers were causing overcrowding in A1 settlements to the extent that farmers were having problems raising their livestock as grazing land was being utilised for agricultural purposes.

Source : The Herald