Khami Medium Prison Farm on the outskirts of Bulawayo which is producing, not just to feed about 4 000 inmates in Bulawayo province but also surplus for sale, should be a farming model which should not only be replicated by all prisons but all Government institutions that have farming land.
The farm which is owned by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS), is into both crop and livestock farming. The nearly 2 600-hectare farm is producing enough to feed inmates at Bulawayo Prison, Mlondozi, Khami Remand, Medium and Maximum prisons that consume about 70 percent of the farm produce while the remaining 30 percent is sent to the market in Bulawayo.
The farm has 252 cattle and 56 of these are dairy cows. It also has goats, pigs, rabbits and horses. Cabinet recently commended Khami prison for using land productively and said the farming model was being replicated at other prisons across the country which is a very good move.
This farming model, as already alluded to, should be replicated at all Government institutions that have land so that the institutions are not just self-sufficient in food but also produce surplus for sale as what is happening at Khami. The farmers allocated land under the Government’s land reform programme should also learn from what is happening at Khami Prison farm where the land is being fully utilised.
There is production throughout the year as opposed to just waiting for the rainy season to grow crops. Zimbabwe has been the region’s bread basket and there is no reason why it cannot regain this status given that more than 300 000 farmers have been allocated land in prime farming areas which used to be a preserve of white farmers.
Zimbabwean communal farmers who before Independence were confined to barren land, used to account for about 80 percent of the country’s grain production so there is no excuse now for failing to produce surplus for export.
We have said it before that those who took up land for speculative purposes have no business to be on the land and should therefore lose it. It is time Government takes action against land owners whose land has remained idle for years.
Land is a finite resource which should only be allocated to those that are prepared to use it productively. The land audit should have identified land that is not being utilised so that it is allocated to those that are prepared to produce for the country.
The nation is looking up to land owners to produce, not just enough for its consumption, but surplus to export to the region as was the case in the past. Zimbabwe has no room for “cellphone” farmers and therefore only committed and dedicated farmers should remain on the land.
Farming is a business which should not just give adequate returns to the farmer but should positively impact on the country’s economy.