Challenges and problems – 11 years on

What are some of the emerging challenges on the new resettlements? Here is a list  pf six generated during discussions on a recent trip to our field sites in Zimbabwe.

  1.  The next generation’s demand for land for land is growing. Those who were aged 16 at the time of the land invasions are now 27, maybe married and without a field. Some youth are mobilising and leading new invasions. Others remain discontented in the communal areas, or in the new resettlements. How to encourage turnover and new entrants, without the problem +of eternal subdivision?
  2. Boundary disputes while important from the beginning, are becoming more and more prevalent. With more people on the land, it is inevitable that boundaries are going to be contested. But who will resolve these as lines of authority in the new resettlements remain unsettled?
  3. Markets for land are emerging, as demand for land continues to grow. These are illegal, underhand and not widely discussed, but are definitely happening, involving chiefs, sabhukus, local government officials and others. A clear and transparent land administration is an urgent policy priority. Land sales, leasing and exchange may well be part of the future, but it needs regulation and clarity in policy.
  4. Soil fertility declines and the invasion of witchweed has been observed in some sites. Of course planting on virgin cleared land means for a few years, natural fertility can be made use of. But it does need replenishing. Fertiliser application rates remain low, and intensive manuring has not taken off, nor has effective crop rotation. It’s maize, maize, maize and more maize. And now with witchweed taking over, rotations and improving soil quality is important. Just as Alvord, and all the extensionists that followed him always said!
  5. With improved production, comes the challenge of marketing. There are now increasingly large gluts of particular products – notably horticultural produce – with resulting collapses of prices and incomes. Greater diversification, and more sophistication in timing in relation to particular markets will be required. This will need better market knowledge, as well as improved infrastructure. In several of our sites, the intermittent train service for example has really hampered marketing to Masvingo and beyond.
  6. One of the big demands for land was for grazing, and as we have documented, livestock populations grew rapidly with the new resources. But there are always limits, and particularly during drought times. At the end of this last dry season, animals were being moved to grazing reserves, but these are few and far between these days as the land is now occupied. In the past poach grazing on white farms was an option, but no longer. The management of drought cycles and grazing management in these dry areas is going to be an increasing challenge into the future.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

One response to “Challenges and problems – 11 years on

  1. am

    On point 1. There is a tribe in Western Kenya, the Kisii, who have hit the division problem. The law of inheritance is that each son has an equal share of his father’s land. This continues with each following son. Many go to Nairobi or other major towns to make do. Those that stay if they are near the tribal border with the Maasai rent land from the Maasai. An advantage of industrialisation in cities is that it removes a formally employed persons need for land. Although he still might want his share he has less need of it. But in the absence of industrialisation and also strict tribal boundaries as per Kenya where the border is not the national border with Tanzania but the border with the next tribe – subdivision means the person cannot subsist by his own means. Zimbabwe does not have tribal borders but it is lacking industrialisation and anything like full employment. This will create pressure on land available for subsistence. Hence in the rural areas stands are being allocated to the youth with a garden of small size but without fields. It is the same problem as the cottars in Scotland.
    Point 4. Needed saying and needs solving.
    Point 6. Spoke to a man today who got an A1 place some time back with associated grazing and his herd has grown from approx 15 to 50 head. He also said that everyone in his fast track village has grown their herd to a greater or lesser extent. Primarily through selling there maize surpluses to people in the communal areas who have cattle but food deficit. But it is difficult to see how that rate of growth can continue under the present set-up. Communal paddocks need to developed with better quality of grazing. Each farmer should have his own grazing paddock and also silage or fodder.
    But that is not easy to do and there would be a lot of opposition. It would probably mean the need for fences and that is opposed very often. In the Highlands of Scotland there is the croft which no other person or their animals can enter. Then there is the common grazing for the village which no other village can use. It is strictly controlled with limits per head. It cannot be a model for here because the population is low there whereas here it is high. But paddocks used to be part of the rural set up in some places – communal. The chief said when the herds could go in. I don’t know why it fell down but the paddocks are now overgrown with bushes and small trees and there is very little grass in them. At best the cattle do not breed as frequently as possible. At worst they die.

    I suppose this is touching on rural law – of fields and grazing – and the need for a thorough review with recommendations appropriate to the culture.

    The field of research must eventually be translated into recommendations. Lobbying has to take place. You should start with the new minister of agriculture – soon to be announced.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s