Zimbabwe’s Remaining Commercial Farmers Under Seige

Peta Thornycroft, Voice of America, Nov. 17

Scores of white commercial farmers, who had previously survived the wave of farm seizures are being evicted from their land in all parts of Zimbabwe.

Others complain of being harassed ahead of eviction. Tens of millions of dollars of farming equipment is being seized off productive farms by members of the police and the army, who are also raiding warehouses and confiscating stored equipment.

Many farmers being evicted or harassed are recipients of loans to grow crops from Zimbabwe’s central bank. Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono has encouraged white commercial farmers to remain on the land and has expressed alarm at the latest round of evictions. However Lands Minister Dydimus Mutasa said he didn’t know about the latest evictions and equipment seizures. The crops grown on commercial farms have been vital sources of foreign exchange earnings for the cash-strapped country. Most economists say that Zimbabwe can only recover its economy if agricultural production is revived.

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There were about 4,000 white commercial farmers whose lands produced 40 percent of Zimbabwe’s foreign currency before President Robert Mugabe ordered his supporters to evict white farmers in early 2000.

Approximately 300 survived the purge, although operating on greatly reduced land and circumstances. This small group still produces about 80 percent of export crops, although volumes have dropped to a quarter of previous levels.

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Less than 10 percent of land confiscated from white farmers since 2000 is being used, according to official statistics.

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