Some new farmers in Guruve confirmed during a field day at the centre that they were now getting assistance from some former white commercial farmers in the area. In return, the farmers are allowed to stay at the farm house and farm a small area around the farm.
One of the former white commercial farmers, Ian Henderson told journalists at a field day that he had been recruited to assist the farmers. Among other things, Henderson said he helps the farmers on such farming techniques as using organic manure, fighting pests, water harvesting and other forms of conservation farming.
Asked for his views about the government’s violent land grab that displaced him and thousands of other white commercial farmers, Henderson said the programme was “coming up very well”.
“The land reform is coming up, it is coming up very well. The new farmers are improving by the day,” Henderson told journalists on the sidelines of a field day to celebrate the success of some 10 000 farmers who got inputs assistance from the European Union (EU), through the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.
While the government has also deployed extension workers to the area, it is understood they are not very well conversant with the crop production techniques most suitable for the area.
A new farmer who took part at the event, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that they were being trained by Henderson and other white farmers who live in the area.
“Since they started helping us out, things have greatly improved. Our area is very tricky in that most of the time we do not receive adequate rains, and we do not have irrigation facilities,” said the farmer.
He said the white farmers also work as advisers to local extension officers, identified only as Mashange and Chitate. Guruve, despite being in one of the country’s leading provinces in terms of crop production, ranks among the driest areas in Zimbabwe.
Since 2000, the government has displaced more than 4 000 white commercial farmers from their land, a move that is widely blamed for the perennial food shortages in the country. The few white farmers that were initially spared at the farms are now in trouble as well, as Zanu PF militia and army officials, who are wantonly grabbing farms, including conservancies and plantations protected under Bilateral Partnership Agreements.