By Elita Chikwati
Government has advised aggrieved farmers to approach the Zimbabwe Land Commission for dispute resolution as it is the right institution to solve conflicts. This was said by Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Chief Air Marshal Perrance Shiri (Retired) while addressing farmers at a field day at the Rattray Arnold Research Station in Goromonzi yesterday.
Minister Shiri said his office was inundated with reports on disputes involving sharing of farm infrastructure, farm boundaries and double allocation.
He said most farmers were approaching the ministry, with others calling and sending text messages to him, when it was the duty of the ZLC to solve such disputes.
Minister Shiri discouraged farmers from engaging in unnecessary conflict as this disrupted agricultural production and negatively affected food security and the economy.
He said farmers should live in harmony and concentrate on production to ensure household and national food security.
“For us to work productively, we should have peace and stability,” he said. “We should not waste time engaging in unnecessary disputes as this disrupts farming activities.
“People should respect the 99-year lease given as this is a legal Government document. It is not good for people to settle themselves on land that has already been issued to other people. We do not allow that.
“Government will take stern measures against illegal settlers and already we have a programme to weed out illegal settlers and those farmers with multiple farms.”
Minister Shiri said it was fortunate that the ZLC had decentralised its offices to provinces where farmers could report their grievances.
“The ZLC has its headquarters in Harare, but it also has offices in the provinces where farmers can get assistance on different disputes,” he said.
Minister Shiri warned farmers against taking the law into their own hands.
“We should not solve problems on our own or resort to violence as there are people responsible for the dispute resolution,” he said.
Minister Shiri urged farmers to work hard and utilise their land fully to boost the economy.
He said the land reform programme was meant to empower people.
“The land reform was not meant to give people burial space, but it was meant to empower the indigenous people so that they can produce, feed the nation and contribute towards the economy,” said Minister Shiri.
“Government has come up with several programmes to empower farmers while seed houses such as Seed Co Zimbabwe have come up with ideal varieties for different ecological regions. It is now the duty of the farmer to do his part and ensure the nation is well fed.
“What is left is for us to boost yields. Our national average yield is 0,9 tonnes per hectare, but we have varieties that can give more than 10 tonnes per hectare. We should work hard to increase our yields per unit area.” The Herald