Zimbabwe News

Contract farming finance model has reduced black farmers into beggars, says Tendai Biti

Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) vice president, Tendai Biti has said the contract farming finance model has reduced black farmers into beggars.

Biti made the remarks in response to a Twitter post by Ryan Gosha @ryangosha who wanted to know what the CCC, led by Nelson Chamisa, a former Minister of ICT during the Government of National Unity (GNU) will do to “sort out the numerous Failed Policy Banks we have in Zimbabwe.” Gosha had said:

Beyond the funding model, the whole idea of using banks as a channel for effecting government policy needs to be done away with…

response, Biti said:

There are 4 issues central to agriculture finance which will be addressed First is ensuring that land is a bankable asset. We have made it clear that all farmers must be granted title which they can use as collateral. Without title, land remains dead capital with use value only

With land that can be hypothecated farmers can be funded through the bank sector. Remember before 2000,74 % of banking lending was to agriculture. Second agriculture subsidies need to be revisited . Zim must abandon the current Command Agriculture model that creates dependency & arbitrage. As the Auditor General s Reports confirm since 2016, Command Agriculture has been used to systematically loot public coffers. Supply-side subsidies must be provided to vulnerable farmers to break hold of cartels now choking agriculture through contract farming.

Truth is the contract farming finance model has reduced black farmers into paupers whilst guaranteeing super returns for the financiers, particularly in tobacco, cotton, wheat & barley. Contract farming in its current mode has failed & exploited farmers. It must be resisted

Next Zim must address the marketing models. The present position of marketing monopoly by GMB is a disaster that has severally prejudiced farmers. The marketing of grains should be liberalized through Agriculture Commodity Exchanges where there is market price discovery

In this regard the exchange rate distortions must be fixed so that farmers don’t subsidize markets. Farmers’ inputs are in US$ yet the controlled prices of their commodities is in Zim$. Dollarizing & floating the Zim$ a key component of addressing agriculture viability

Lastly Zim must revisit the accumulation model around agriculture. 100 years after the Rudd Concession, agriculture remains extractive. 95% of Zim tobacco is exported. Agro industrialization is urgent. Value addition & beneficiation are long overdue.

Biti, a former Minister of Finance and Economic Development during the GNU added that value addition can only be achieved if Zim agriculture is modernised and digitised as in other countries around the globe.

The lawyer said there are many distortions including multiple farm ownership, multiple leases, continued occupations, idle land, middlemen and cartels, lack of cheap finance, and weaponization of agriculture that need urgent redress.

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