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Land Use and Agricultural Productivity in Zimbabwe

  • Dan Weiner (a1), Sam Moyo (a2), Barry Munslow (a3) and Phil O'Keefe (a4)

Given a continuation of current trends, with increasing population growth and declining food production, Southern Africa (excluding South Africa) which could nearly feed itself during 1979–81, will be only 64 per cent self-sufficient by the turn of the century. Zimbabwe has a particularly important rôle to play in trying to prevent such a disaster. It is by far the most important exporter of food and cash crops in the region, and has been allocated the task of co-ordinating a food-security strategy for the nine member-states of the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference, namely Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

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1 Norman, Denis, ‘Food Security in SADCC’, Seminar on the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference,Commonwealth Institute,London,19 July 1984.

2 Mumbengegwi, Clever, ‘Some Observations on the Problems and Prospects of Socialist Agricultural Transformation in Zimbabwe’, 20th International Summer Seminar on ‘Planning for Development and Social Progress in Socialist and Developing Countries’,University of Economic Science ‘Bruno Leischner’,German Democratic Republic, Berlin,June 1983.

1 Munslow, Barry, ‘Prospects for the Socialist Transition of Agriculture in Zimbabwe’, in World Development (Oxford), 13, 1, 1985, pp. 4158.

2 Chavunduka, Gordon, Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Agricultural Industry (Harare, 1982), p. 6.

2 Zimbabwe, Central Statistical Office, 1982 Population Census – a Preliminary Assessment (Harare, 1984).

2 For an account of the creation of labour reserves in Rhodesia, see Palmer, Robin, Land and Racial Domination in Rhodesia (London, 1977);Robin, Palmer and Neil, Parsons (eds.), The Roots of Rural Poverty in Central and Southern Africa (London, 1977); and Arrighi, Giovanni, ‘Labor Supplies in Historical Perspective: a study of the proletarianization of the African peasantry in Rhodesia’, in Arrighi, and Saul, John S. (eds.), Essays on the Political Economy of Africa (New York and London, 1973).

1 Figure derived from discussions with officials of the Commercial Farmers Union, December 1983.

2 Agricultural Marketing Authority, Economic Review of Zimbabwe – 1982 (Harare, 1982).

1 Central Statistical Office, ICA Crop Production Statistics – 1981/82 Crop Season (Harare, 1983), and Crop Production of Commercial Farms, 1982 (Harare, 1983).

2 Chikanza, I., Paxton, D., Loewenson, R., and Laing, R., ‘The Health Status of Farm Worker Communities in Zimbabwe’, in Central African Journal of Medicine (Harare), 27, 5, 1981.

3 ICA Crop Production Statistics – 1981/2 Crop Season.

4 Financial Gazette (Harare), 3 August 1984.

5 Cropped areas would be slightly higher than areas under crops, as a result of double cropping.

2 Department of Conservation and Extension, Report on the Agricultural and Extension Situation in African Purchase Areas of Rhodesia (Salisbury, 1977).

1 This was discussed with officials of the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority in October 1983.

1 Government of Zimbabwe, The First Transitional Development Plan: 1982/85 –1984/85 (Harare, 1982).

2 Whitsun Foundation, Land Reform in Zimbabwe (Harare, 1983).

1 Ibid. p. v.

2 Ibid. p. 55.

3 Associates, Hawkins, Investigation into the Intensity of Land Utilization in Selected Farming Areas of Zimbabwe (Washington, D.C., 1982). An ‘intensive conservation area’ is an administrative boundary within the large-scale commercial farms areas. There are 46 I.C.A.'s in the three Mashonaland Provinces.

4 Hume, Ian M., Agriculture in Rhodesia (Salisbury, 1977), p. 3.

5 Riddell, Roger C., The Land Problem in Rhodesia: alternatives for the future (Gwelo, 1978).

2 Davies, A. G., ‘Land Use in the Mazoe Valley – Land Capability Classification’, in Rhodesia Agricultural Journal (Salisbury), 73, 3, 0506 1976.

1 Ellis-Jones, R. W. J., ‘Land Tenure and Obstacles to Rural Development’, M.Sc. thesis, University of Reading, 1975.

2 The authors gratefully acknowledge the work of Kumbirayi Munasirai of the Beijer Institute and the Department of Land Management, University of Zimbabwe, who helped to compile the statistics in this table.

1 Internal Memorandum, Commercial Farmers Union, Harare, 20 May 1982.

2 The Economist (London), 21 April 1984.

1 Riddell, op. cit.

2 The Ministry of Agriculture's method is outlined in detail in ‘Lecture Notes for Land-Use Planning’, Harare, n.d.

1 Our figure is significantly smaller than the Whitsun Foundation's estimate of 7 per cent, because they were counting total arable land for a wider geographical area (i.e. including Manicaland).

2 Rotations of planted pasture and fodder crops have been included as part of total cropped area in C.S.O. statistics. In the 1981–1982 crop year, there was 46,712 hectares under planted pasture and 11,440 under fodder crops.

1 This does not include the 58,152 hectares under planted pasture and fodder crops. Furthermore, crop residues are often used for feeding.

2 Private communication with authors, June 1984. This stocking rate is based on what planners feel is ecologically sustainable in the region.

3 Rodel, M. and Boultwood, J., ‘The Effects of Intensive Grazing of Pastures on the Density of Soil under such Pastures’, in Zimbabwe Agricultural Journal (Harare), 78, 6, 1981.

4 Central Statistical Office, Livestock on Commercial Farms – 1982 (Harare, 1982).

1 The area under crops was 440, 247 hectares in 1981–1982 (column B, Table 3). This refers to the geographical area cropped, not the total number of hectares cropped.

2 According to Kinsey, Bill, the average holding per family is 89 hectares in natural region IV and 33 hectares in natural region II; ‘Emerging Policy Issues in Zimbabwe's Land Resettlement Program’, in Development Policy Review (London, Beverly Hills, and New Delhi), 1, 1983, Table 3, p. 179.

3 Ministry of Agriculture, The First Annual Report of Farm Management Data for Small Farm Units (Harare, 1984).

1 We have visited farms in Mashonaland with over ten tractors. The figure also excludes the 628 combines used in the sub-sector that year.

2 van der Sluijs, D. H., ‘Prospects for the Commercial Farming Sector’, in World Bank, Zimbabwe Agricultural Sector Study (Washington, D.C., 1983), p. 19. Our estimate of average cropped area is higher because we are including the Mashonaland region only.

3 Data obtained from Ministry of Agriculture, July 1984.

1 Whitlow, R., ‘An Assessment of Cultivated Lands in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, 1972–1977’, in The Zimbabwe-Rhodesia Science News (Harare), 13, 10, 1979,

2 Modern Farming Publications, Zimbabwe Agricultural and Economic Review (Harare, 1982), p. 73.

3 Tattersfield, J., ‘The Role of Research in Increasing Food Crop Potential in Zimbabwe’, in The Zimbabwe Science News (Harare), 16, 1, 1982, and World Bank, Zimbabwe Agricultural Sector Study, 1983.

2 ‘Productivity of Communal Farms Delights Agritex’, in Financial Gazette, 18 May 1984.

2 Private communication with Senior Planner of the Ministry of Agriculture's Agritex branch, May 1984.

3 Wright, op. cit.

4 The Herald (Harare), 29 June 1984, p. 3.

1 Department of Conservation and Extension, ‘Final Project for the Umfurudzi Intensive Resettlement Area’, Harare, 1981.

2 Kinsey, loc. cit.

3 This is the assumption used in model A farm plans.

4 Kinsey, loc. cit. p. 189.

1 Figures obtained through discussion with officials of the Ministry of Lands, Resettlement, and Rural Development, Harare, July 1984.

2 Sunday Mail, 8 April 1984, p. 4.

3 The Herald, 6 September 1984.

5 Ibid. 20 March 1985.

2 Ong, Bie Nio, ‘Women and the Transition to Socialism in Sub-Saharan Africa’, in Barry, Munslow (ed.), Africa's Problems in the Transition to Socialism (London, 1986).

1 Ranger, Terence O., Peasant Consciousness and Guerrilla War in Zimbabwe: a comparative study (London, 1985).

2 See, for example, the special issue on Agriculture in Socialist Development’, World Development, 13, 1, 1985.

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The Journal of Modern African Studies
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  • EISSN: 1469-7777
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