Joint ventures urged for optimum land use

Writes Elvis Dumba

Banket – Investment partnerships in agriculture are critical for maximum and optimum land use for the success of the government’s agrarian reform program.

The sentiments were made by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. John Basera during a winter wheat field visit at Mema Estates in Banket.

“As we go for growth, we are fine-tuning joint ventures which have been increasing production levels so that both the investor and the land owner are protected. We are introducing a 35% punitive measure on joint ventures to avoid inconveniences where one partner just decides to pull out from the agreement,” he said.

Dr. Basera said some landowners do not have enough resources to fully utilise the land whilst some potential investors do not have ready access to land.

“Through the Ministry of Agriculture which administers all land in the country, we have been matching potential investors who may not have land to land owners who may have challenges in accessing resources to fully utilise the land so that all arable land is utilised. Since 2020, joint ventures have upscaled maximum land and increased land production which is helping us to accelerate the growth of our economy as we target to attain an US$8 billion agro-economy by 2025 as we become food secure, this farm is a testimony to the success of joint ventures and as a Ministry, we are introducing an online platform where potential investors meet and are matched online so we upscale the gains of the land reform program” he said

“We are going for growth and our winter target of 90 000 hectares is on reach as we have attained 86 000 hectares so far as we move towards wheat self-sufficiency”

“As a government, we are fully behind the issue of joint ventures which is working well through the matchmaking of investors and land owners so we upscale productivity as we go for growth”

Dr. Basera said the government will continue supporting all farmers in the agriculture sector who are driving the country’s economy with preparations for the summer maize season already in full swing and the distribution of the presidential input already underway.

Dr. Basera said the government has put in place mechanisms to reduce the challenges of quelea birds that usually affect the wheat harvest.

Mema Estate has 400 hectares under wheat production through a joint venture between Francis Kriel, the anchor investor, and various beneficiaries of the land reform program

Mr. Cleopas Mhakayakora, a joint venture partner owning 36 hectares hailed the joint venture as an agriculture change maker.

“I am happy with such an initiative that has empowered me. Remember, agriculture is a huge financial consuming sector at the production level. If you do not have enough resources, you may end up utilizing a small piece of land and leaving other unutilized land but through this joint venture, all of my land is being maximum utilised and I am happy with what I am getting out of the partnership,” he said in an interview.

At least ten beneficiaries of the land reform program at the Estate have entered into a four-year-old joint venture arrangement with Kriel who also runs a maize and flour milling factory, a cooking manufacturing company as well as a bakery creating value addition in the agriculture value chain.

Mema Estate is in Zvimba District, one of the six districts in Mashonalnd West Province that have already achieved the 2023 wheat season target.

Mashonalnd West Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Hon Mary Mliswa- Chikoka said the government is thankful to farmers who have heeded its call for the full utilisation of agricultural land.

“We are grateful to the visionary leadership of President Emerson Mnangagwa as we are witnessing the success of joint ventures at this farm. I urge both partners to continue working for the food security of the country,” she said.

Zvimba North Constituency Legislator, Hon Marian Chombo, in a speech read on her behalf by Zvimba District Development Coordinator, Mr Joseph Manyurapasi, said hands-on support rendered to farmers by the government through the Ministry of Agriculture has ensured food security at the household level in the Constituency.