Government seeks joint venture partners for idle land

18 Jan, 2022 - 00:01 0 Views
Government seeks joint venture partners for idle land Dr Anxious Masuka

The Chronicle

Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE Government is developing a joint venture database for match-making available underutilised and unproductive land with potential joint venture partners to promote production in line with the National Development Strategy 1.

Since the turn of the millennium, the land application waiting list has increased to 250 000 while more than 20 000 have benefitted from the land redistribution programme the Government embarked on in 2000.

To address land redistribution issues, the Second Republic is in the process of identifying underutilised land that can be redistributed.

In a statement, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka reminded the nation that land was a finite resource, and thus not every applicant will get it.

“However, I wish to highlight that one does not need to have land in order to do business on land. It is in this regard that the Ministry encourages joint ventures on unproductive land.

“A joint venture database, for the purpose of match-making available underutilised and unproductive land units with potential joint venture partners is being developed,” he said.

A Joint Venture Agreement Framework which allows investors to undertake farming operations with the consent of Government has been approved.

“It must be emphasised that all joint ventures must be approved by the ministry for them to be legally-binding documents.

“Section 18 of the Land Commission Act Chapter 20:29 buttresses this position by asserting that no occupier of State land shall permit occupation, on a share-cropping basis, by another person unless a formal agreement has been entered into between the owner and the occupier with that agreement having been approved by the minister,” said Dr Masuka.

Farmers were being encouraged to register with their nearest Agritex office while potential joint venture partners were encouraged to register with the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit of the ministry.

The forms for farmers and joint venture partners are obtainable from the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit.

“Where conversion of agricultural land (such as cropping and/or livestock to forestry) is planned, a special approval from the ministry must be sought first, before parties can sign the Special Forestry Joint Venture Agreement.

“A different agreement is required to cater for the long-term nature of forestry, and the delayed returns on investment but, more importantly, to consider and preserve agricultural land for national food security.

“All forestry joint ventures, whether registered or unregistered with the ministry, must be submitted to the ministry by 15 February 2022. Farmers undertaking forestry joint ventures must clearly indicate this on their annual production and productivity returns.”

Dr Masuka said through the joint ventures, the Government was encouraging farmers to increase productivity on farms.

In line with the thrust to improve agricultural production, abandoned farms, derelict farms and underutilised farms shall be liable for repossession and redistribution to deserving beneficiaries on the waiting list for land allocation.

As land is a major economic enabler, all A1 and A2 farmers were being directed to submit annual production and productivity forms to Government by February 15 of each year.

The new A2 permit conditions also compel all A2 farmers to provide such returns. — @KazungaOliver

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