WHEN Zimbabwe embarked on the Land Reform Programme at the turn of the new millennium, the country’s detractors, both within and outside the country, described it as “chaotic” and ruled out any economic benefits out of it.
“Dark forces” thought it was the end of the country’s agriculture sector.
The country’s sworn enemies responded by imposing illegal sanctions on the country to cripple the country’s agrarian reforms and the economy in general.
This was our punishment and a warning to any peers in the region that might have wanted to take the Zimbabwean route.
The illegal sanctions dried any form of funding towards the agriculture sector, mainly by international financiers.
However, Zimbabwe did not bow down to the pressure from the country’s enemies. It pressed on with the Land Reform Programme, supporting the new farmers in every way the Government could.
Various measures were put in place to ease the effects of the illegal sanctions.
These measures included roping in of the country’s all weather friends such as China, Brazil and Belarus, among others, as well as domestic resource mobilisation to finance crop production.
These countries helped in the mechanisation of the country’s agriculture sector through donations, loans and grants with flexible repayment terms.
Equipment such as tractors, combine harvesters, irrigation and spraying equipment were either donated or supplied to the country, mainly bought using funds from flexible loans and grants.
This in turn increased efficiency and output.
Today, some of the enemies have awakened from a deep slumber to acknowledge the fruits of the Land Reform Programme.
This is the beginning of the new era, which we hope will spread throughout Europe and the Americas.
A USA-based multi-lingual and international tobacco magazine, tobaccoreporter.com recently reported on Zimbabwe’s tobacco earnings in the 2020/21 season.
The publication noted that the season was characterised by hectarage growth, more rains, higher prices and higher output.
According to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), there was a 6,84 percent growth in tobacco hectarage from 117 000 hectares the previous season to 125 000 hectares in 2021.
Earnings during the same period rose by 38,8 percent from US$360m in 2020 to US$500 million in 2021.
The higher earnings were achieved from a combination of a 25,8 percent output growth and a 12,7 percent average price increase to US$2,75 per kilogramme in 2021.
According to estimates, at least 200 million kg of tobacco will be sold this season, compared to the 180 million kgs sold last year.
The Tobacco Reporter magazine in Europe and the Americas also reported that the global attention that the tobacco industry is gaining will aid Zimbabwe’s international business engagement and re-engagement efforts.
Its reportage vindicates the Land Reform Programme, as evidenced by output growth at a time when indigenous farmers are the dominant producers.
The new reality de-constructs the propaganda peddled by detractors of the Land Reform Programme that indigenous farmers would fail to productively utilise the land, thereby leading to declining crop output.
No doubt, the attention the tobacco sector has earned from the international community will attract investors to the sector.
A plurality of financiers will create competition that will benefit the farmers through better offers and more flexible contracts.
Above all, this will enhance production as well as investments in value addition.
The golden leaf is the country`s largest foreign earner in the agriculture sector.
It is equally hoped that more farmers will venture into tobacco production in the 2021/22 cropping season as they are lured by the success story of the previous season.