November 21, 2003

Zimbabwean farmers increase tobacco production

The fast-track land redistribution programme in Zimbabwe has forced many commercial farmers to seek greener pastures elsewhere, and Zambia is one of the neighbouring countries that has opened its arms to them. However, fewer Zimbabwean farmers than was previously reported have been granted permission to farm in Zambia.

The Zambia Investment Centre (ZIC) told IRIN this week that since the beginning of Zimbabwe's land reform programme in 2002, a total of 41 Zimbabwean farmers had registered with the centre. ZIC issued investment certificates to just 31, allowing them to begin commercial farming. "All the Zimbabwean farmers granted investment certificates to set up farming operations in Zambia are farming. They are engaged in [farming] tobacco, maize, wheat, etc," the ZIC said.

ZIC was expecting to receive many more applications from Zimbabwean farmers. "Zambia has the potential to accommodate a lot more farmers, due to her abundant land and water resources, than we currently have," the organisation said. Forty-seven percent of Zambian land is arable and "suitable for various types of crops". "We therefore anticipate that more farmers will come and invest in Zambian agriculture, given the profile the sector has attained and [the] enabling environment being created by government," the ZIC said.

Agriculture has been designated a priority area by the Zambian government. "The Zambia Investment Centre would therefore like more farmers of the calibre of Zimbabwean farmers to invest in Zambian agriculture," the organisation said. The ZIC plays a facilitation role for potential investors, providing assistance to those issued with investment certificates in obtaining immigration permits and other necessary documents. (IRIN)

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