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Thursday, 8 July 2010

A tragic Zimbabwean irony?

SW Radio News Africa on Zambia's bumber harvest:

While farms that were once highly productive lie idle under the new ownership of ZANU-PF officials and cronies, Zimbabwe is in the process of negotiating a deal to import maize from neighboring Zambia. The tragic irony is that the crops being sought after were grown by white farmers who were illegally booted off their land in Zimbabwe. Many wound up in neighboring countries, which are now benefiting from their expertise.

Zambia used to import maize and other food items from Zimbabwe, but with the influx of some of Zimbabwe’s best farmers, they’ve once again produced a surplus maize crop. Zimbabwe on the other hand has recorded a deficit of 500,000 tonnes of the daily food staple this year.
Chiredzi based farmer Gerry Whitehead described the whole situation as “disgusting”. He said: “Approximately 90% of these Zambian crops are coming from ex-Zimbabwean farmers who were forced off their land here.”
Two premises contained above. The major premise - Zambia has a bumper harvest is accurate. The minor premise that this is due to white farmers from Zimbabwe can only be assessed by this FSRP resource. The evidence in that pack is pretty emphatic that the increases are across the board and small holders have contributed significantly. I can only imagine SW Radio forgot to visit the FSRP website.

18 comments:

  1. The contribution of "white farmers" to the growth of agriculture in Zambia in the last 5-8 years has much less to do with the fact that they are white than that they are farmers...and very importantly farmers who had already established credit with regional banks and who had the fortune of timing their arrival to Zambia with broader shifts in macroeconomic and policy-related fundamentals including increased domestic liquidity, HIPC forgiveness, dollar convertibility, reduction in private sector regulation, and the unprecedented commodity bubble created since the turn of the century of which Zambia has been a particular beneficiary.

    Farmers of any colour might have done well in these circumstances and it is about time that the media and analysts stopped hanging on to the salacious hook of race relations to explain basic economics.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Cho,

    It is a lie. SW Radio Africa is just there to continue the myth of white supremacy, and are shilling for corporate capital, and the return of whites to their estates (they're not 'farms'). The more Zimbabweans understand what the MDC really stands for, the less popular they become. They have resisted the indigenisation law for the same reasons.

    Zambia used to import maize and other food items from Zimbabwe, but with the influx of some of Zimbabwe’s best farmers, they’ve once again produced a surplus maize crop. Zimbabwe on the other hand has recorded a deficit of 500,000 tonnes of the daily food staple this year.
    Chiredzi based farmer Gerry Whitehead described the whole situation as “disgusting”. He said: “Approximately 90% of these Zambian crops are coming from ex-Zimbabwean farmers who were forced off their land here.”


    These people are liars. They have been waging a grudge war based on lies for half a century even before ZANU and ZAPU started the new liberation war in 1965. They lied that 'Africans are bad farmers', a lie which they used to suppress African farm output by underpaying them for their maize, 'to save the environment'. (See Richard P. Vickery's "Black And White In Southern Zambia".)

    'Approximately 90% of these Zambian crops are coming from ex-Zimbabwean farmers'.

    As you have shown, almost twice (2/3) as much crops in Zambia are produced by land under 5 hectares in size as come from land of over 5 hectares in size.

    So obviously again, they're lying. And they're lying for the benefit of their 'tribe'. Imagine if an Ngoni, Tonga, Bemba or Lozi made the same statement. Everyone would see it for what it was.

    If you want a detailed, non-propagandistic understanding of the impact of land reform, I suggest this is the 'must read' article on the issue:

    A new start for Zimbabwe? by Ian Scoones
    Ian Scoones, Challenges the myths about Zimbabwean agriculture and land reform
    15 September 2008

    Ian Scoones is a Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, UK. He is an agricultural ecologist by original training and has worked in rural Zimbabwe since 1985. His PhD thesis was entitled Livestock Populations and Household Economy: A Case Study from Southern Zimbabwe (University of London, 1990). He is the author of numerous articles, chapters and reports on rural Zimbabwe, including the 1996 book “Hazards and Opportunities: Farming Livelihoods in Dryland Zimbabwe” (Zed Press). He is a member of the Livelihoods after Land Reform project team. All views presented in this article are personal ones.

    Also check out: Lessons of Zimbabwe
    Mahmood Mamdani

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jeremy,

    Farmers of any colour might have done well in these circumstances and it is about time that the media and analysts stopped hanging on to the salacious hook of race relations to explain basic economics.

    But that would defeat the propaganda message of SW Radio Africa. You see, in SWRA's vision, the only 'proper' farm is a large estate run by a single white farmer, with hundreds of African 'farm workers'.

    SW Radio Africa is a propaganda outfit, funded by the US government. According to Sourcewatch.org, they are directly funded by the Office of Transition Initiatives of USAID.

    The OTI: " "The USAID Office of Transition Initiatives supports U.S. foreign policy objectives by helping local partners advance peace and democracy in priority countries in crisis. Seizing critical windows of opportunity, OTI works on the ground to provide fast, flexible, short-term assistance targeted at key political transition and stabilization needs." [1] "

    Former CIA agent on the OTI's 'regime change' activities in Venezuela:

    In 2005, Philip Agee described how the OTI operated to "promote democracy":

    "In Venezuela the administration of George W. Bush is intervening in the political process with a combination of activities very similar to those the U.S. carried out in Nicaragua in the 1980s, but without a terrorist war on the scale of the Contras, and 'at least until mid-2005' without an economic embargo. These activities, with a 2005 budget approaching $10 million, masquerade as 'civic education', 'support for the electoral process,' and 'strengthening the democratic system.' In reality, all these programs, carried out almost silently, support the opposition against President Chavez and his coalition.
    "The action agencies of this 'open support for democracy in Venezuela' are the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) with its four associated foundations. The largest amount of money, some $7 million in 2005, is channeled by AID's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) through a private contractor, Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), a consulting firm based in Bethesda, Maryland, next to Washington D.C. Additionally the CIA, as always, has its role in supplying secret funds and providing clandestine support." [2]

    Welcome to the war.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Cho,

    I can only imagine SW Radio forgot to visit the FSRP website.

    Why don't you check their integrity by sending them an e-mail and requesting a correction of their piece?

    My bet is they aren't going to do it, because this fits right into their narrative - that African lands should be in the hands of whites because 'they know what to do'.

    This story from ZimbabweSituation first appeared here on SW Radio Africa:

    http://www.swradioafrica.com/News010710/Maize010710.htm
    They have a general feedback page here:
    http://www.swradioafrica.com/pages/feedback.php

    The writer of this article was:
    Tererai Karimakwenda


    Also see:

    Indigenisation and land reform cannot be left in the hands of government alone

    Heart of the Matter
    by Tanonoka Joseph Whande
    8 July, 2010
    http://www.swradioafrica.com/pages/heart080710.htm
    tano@swradioafrica.com

    Now, with the influx of some of Zimbabwe’s best farmers, “Zambia is now producing a surplus maize crop at a time Zimbabwe has recorded a deficit of 500,000 tonnes of the daily food staple this year”.
    Zambia’s High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Sipula Kabanje, confirmed reports that negotiations with Zimbabwe were going on through Zambia’s maize agent, the Food Reserve Agency.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have tried at 3 times to respond to their website. Unfortunately, it seems they dont entertain counterarguments to their propaganda. All I pointed out was that it is the small holders who are responsible for 90% of Zambian maize production. I also pointed out that Zambians have always produced at least 1m tonnes of Maize so it was difficult to understand how Zambians would fail to produce more than 400 000 tonnes of a 2.7m tonne bumper harvest on the back of fertiliser subsidies from the govt unless of course all the fertiliser was given to these very special white Zimbabwean farmers. In Zambia so called commercial farmers (inclusive of the gifted white Zimbabweans) usually engage in high value products such as Tobacco and Wheat and not Maize. The reason for this is govt's heavy involvement in pricing and marketing in the Maize sector.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Frank,

    I have sent the following letter to SW Radio Africa and Tanonoka Joseph Whande, who wrote the July 8th article.

    In a recent article, a certain white farmer named Gerry Whitehead made the idle boast that “Approximately 90% of these Zambian crops are coming from ex-Zimbabwean farmers who were forced off their land here.”

    You did not bother to back this claim with any references. In fact, the claim that the boom in maize production in Zambia can be attributed to an influx of white farmers, and that a slump in maize production in Zimbabwe can be attributed to an outflow of white farmers, can only be attributed to a sense of racial superiority, which seems to prevalent among you white countrymen.

    It is an impugning of the capacity of Zambian farmers, let alone Black Zimbabwean farmers, to claim that any increase (or decrease) in their productivity must be attributed to Whites, instead of the usual causes, such as government support or increased rains.

    On top of that, 82% (2008) of Zambian maize is grown by small and medium scale farmers (1.1 million of them) - not commercial farmers (1), while the increase in production per hectare is very evenly distributed over all farm categories - up 30.8% to 34.6% per hectare, as the following chart shows.

    So how Gerry Whitehead can claim that '90%' of Zambian maize is grown by white farmers, let alone white Zimbabwean farmers, needs clarification.

    This graph, from the report "What's Behind Zambia's Record Maize Crop?" from the Zambia Food Security Research Project (FSRP) shows a very even growth in productivity from 2009/2010 across all farm sizes .

    As you may know, maize is a staple crop, and commercial farmers mainly grow the much higher priced commercial export crops - tobacco, tea, coffee, etc. Maize, even in Zambia where it is the national staple, sells for over $200 per tonne which is high, but much lower than the per tonne prices for tobacco, tea, etc.

    It would not be the first time of course that white Zimbabweans would lay blame on Africans when it is unwarranted, or take credit for achievements that are not theirs.

    I am awaiting your response, or rectification.

    Sincerely,

    MrK, blogger

    (1) (Source: Table 1a. Zambian Maize Production by Smallholder (Small- & Medium-Scale Holding Combined) and Commercial Farmers 2003/04 - 2007/08)

    ReplyDelete
  7. A week after the July 1st article, appeared, one Tanonoka Joseph Whande regurgitated in another article on SW Radio Africa:

    Now, with the influx of some of Zimbabwe’s best farmers, “Zambia is now producing a surplus maize crop at a time Zimbabwe has recorded a deficit of 500,000 tonnes of the daily food staple this year”.
    Zambia’s High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Sipula Kabanje, confirmed reports that negotiations with Zimbabwe were going on through Zambia’s maize agent, the Food Reserve Agency.

    So, here I sit, wondering which and what should be more important than the other: giving land to people, even if they do not have agricultural inclination, just to satisfy the expectations of land indigenisation or letting only those who can productively use the land for the benefit of the nation be given the land.


    He means white farmers. You know, the ones who are responsible for Zambia's bumper crop.

    I hope people now start to see through the propaganda that is being poured on Zimbabwe, and now Zambia, by the powers that want to keep Africa's mines in western hands, and Africa's land in the hands of former colonists.

    And of course, Zambia has another big plus: it isn't under economic sanctions, or has it's lines of credit with the World Bank, IMF other banking institutions frozen because of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001.

    And it is not only Zimbabwe which is under sanctions. Anyone who will stand with Zimbabwe is at risk at having donor aid suspended. (1,2)

    Zimbabwe didn't fail 'because of Mugabe's mismanagement', or 'just because' without the white man, 'things fall apart', but it was made to fail, by illegal means, in a relentless campaign of economic disenfranchisement, media propaganda, and disinformation.

    In the end, the currency failed, but the country has not, the ZANU-PF has not, and the President has not. But know what the MDC is all about, why there are so many Rhodesians in it, and why it is so relentlessly neoliberal in economic policy.


    (1) EU petitioned to suspend aid to Malawi over bankrolling Mugabe
    By Nyasa Times
    Published: November 17, 2009

    “Why, for instance, should Malawi get £70 million in balance of payments support this year from the UK alone when its people face starvation because of a reckless loan to Mugabe, which predictably has not been repaid? “ reads the petition.

    The words of Brigadier General Geoffrey van Orden (Military Intelligence), MEP. This 'petition' was followed 2 months later with this actual withholding of 'donor aid':

    (2) World Bank faults Malawi on aid absorption as EU withholds budgetary support
    By Nyasa Times
    Published: December 28, 2009

    The report comes in the wake of the European Union’s decision to withhold budgetary support to Malawi.

    The EU is withholding about K6 billion because of concerns with the “macro-economic framework” in Malawi.

    ReplyDelete
  8. A week after the July 1st article, appeared, one Tanonoka Joseph Whande regurgitated in another article on SW Radio Africa:

    Now, with the influx of some of Zimbabwe’s best farmers, “Zambia is now producing a surplus maize crop at a time Zimbabwe has recorded a deficit of 500,000 tonnes of the daily food staple this year”.
    Zambia’s High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Sipula Kabanje, confirmed reports that negotiations with Zimbabwe were going on through Zambia’s maize agent, the Food Reserve Agency.

    So, here I sit, wondering which and what should be more important than the other: giving land to people, even if they do not have agricultural inclination, just to satisfy the expectations of land indigenisation or letting only those who can productively use the land for the benefit of the nation be given the land.


    He means white farmers. You know, the ones who are responsible for Zambia's bumper crop.

    I hope people now start to see through the propaganda that is being poured on Zimbabwe, and now Zambia, by the powers that want to keep Africa's mines in western hands, and Africa's land in the hands of former colonists.

    And of course, Zambia has another big plus: it isn't under economic sanctions, or has it's lines of credit with the World Bank, IMF other banking institutions frozen because of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001.

    And it is not only Zimbabwe which is under sanctions. Anyone who will stand with Zimbabwe is at risk at having donor aid suspended. (1,2)

    Zimbabwe didn't fail 'because of Mugabe's mismanagement', or 'just because' without the white man, 'things fall apart', but it was made to fail, by illegal means, in a relentless campaign of economic disenfranchisement, media propaganda, and disinformation.

    In the end, the currency failed, but the country has not, the ZANU-PF has not, and the President has not. But know what the MDC is all about, why there are so many Rhodesians in it, and why it is so relentlessly neoliberal in economic policy.


    (1) EU petitioned to suspend aid to Malawi over bankrolling Mugabe
    By Nyasa Times
    Published: November 17, 2009

    “Why, for instance, should Malawi get £70 million in balance of payments support this year from the UK alone when its people face starvation because of a reckless loan to Mugabe, which predictably has not been repaid? “ reads the petition.

    The words of Brigadier General Geoffrey van Orden (Military Intelligence), MEP. This 'petition' was followed 2 months later with this actual withholding of 'donor aid':

    (2) World Bank faults Malawi on aid absorption as EU withholds budgetary support
    By Nyasa Times
    Published: December 28, 2009

    The report comes in the wake of the European Union’s decision to withhold budgetary support to Malawi.

    The EU is withholding about K6 billion because of concerns with the “macro-economic framework” in Malawi.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It seems fairly clear that the increases in productivity were across the board; however commercial farmers (white, black, coloured, Indian) will be the ones exporting and seeing as these are large contracts my guess is political elites will have their fingers in the pie-so corruption all round, sounds equitable to me with people of all races getting a chance to squeeze the poor labourers for a few more Ngwee. Without having to refer to race it is clear that more intensive farmers in Zambia would result in increased production, they just happened to be Africans of a certain complexion but I'm sure we'd complain if they were Chinese, Egyptian or Nigerian. And though most Zimbabweans of the pink complexion do not have savoury racial attitudes they employ their workers and are so scared of the same thing happening all over again (some getting killed) that they pay and treat their workers better than we would expect. The workers are also free to go whenever they want(Zambia not being feudal), they can go to Lusaka to join the compounds so kindly maintained by the government for the enjoyment of its citizens. Who actually cares what colour people are if they pay their workers and provide some money and food for the country; and we must also remember that racism goes both ways so we cannot say that the racial ideas of Zimbabweans are the only problem as some Zambians seem to have problems with race too. Perhaps we should go take a look at some ideals from independence: a non-racial society. It now seems we have to deal with class interests dressing up their defence of privilege with racial language to divert attention from the nefarious activities and exploitation of the poor(not very Christian is it?) undertaken by the elite.
    Reuben Mbewe

    ReplyDelete
  10. The radio report displayed a serious ignorance of the facts. Maize yields in Zambia depend on:
    1.Good rainfall (for which govt always takes the credit)
    2. Availability of subsidized inputs
    3. Whether last years price was profitable.
    Few commercial farmers grow maize except for sale fresh or off season. Most commercial farmers can do a costing and work out whether something is profitable or not. Their labour costs are higher than small scale farmers who don't comply with minimum wage laws. Therefore most maize is grown by the small scale sector. Most former Zimbabwean farmers are presumably commercial rather than small scale and would probably only grow maize for their employees or livestock.
    Nobody who made a loss is in a hurry to repeat the experience even if they can afford to. (Maize consumers had better buy enough maize this year to carry through the inevitable shortage next year.)
    On the price side, a commercial farmer is more likely to export, is closer to a main road, and more likely to have a forward contract with a buyer. He is also more likely to be able to wait for the seasonal price rise though that may not happen this year. Either way, he will get a better price than a small scale producer.

    ReplyDelete
  11. R. Henson,

    I hope for some integrity from SW Radio Africa, and hope that they will respond to my email. However, I doubt it, as their mission seems to be to make propaganda against Zimbabwe. I would love to be pleasantly surprised though.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Very unfortunate comments. Also very unfortunate that even black intellectuals can't seem to see through this white propaganda. A visit to any white owned farm in Zambia will show that these farmers mostly grow tobacco, cut flowers and other high value export crops. To suggest that white farmers are responsible for maize production in Zambia is a serious insult to our small scale farmers. Please gentlemen, let us see through this propaganda.

    ReplyDelete
  13. General,

    I wouldn't characterize the employees of SW Radio Africa as intellectuals. Pundits, propagandists, jobbers, perhaps.

    What they do, is push a political agenda. Anti land reform, anti indigenisation, pro MDC, pro neoliberalism, etc.

    By the way, they haven't returned my e-mail yet. :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. As of this writing SW Radio Africa have not responded to my e-mail, or retracted their stories about the cause of Zambia's maize surplus.

    I guess that shows their level of integrity. They are a London based propaganda arm, they are paid by the US and UK governments to make propaganda against Zimbabwe, the ZANU-PF, and President Mugabe.

    They are not interested in the truth, professional reporting, or anything else.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Philbert Muzungaire19 July 2010 21:54

    For those Africans, or Westerners, or others, who argue the incapacity of Black Africans as farmers, some perspective (in last sentence):

    “As cattle and sheep farmers the colonists are very successful. Large quantities of wool are produced every year. But this system requires a rapid extension of ground, and farmers are gradually spreading to the north. The movement proves prejudicial to the country behind by drawing off labour which would otherwise be directed to the improvement of the territory already occupied. Encroachment upon the interior actually diminishes cultivation for less land is put under the plough than was before subjected to the native hoe. The Basutos and Zulus or Caffres of Natal undersell our farmers wherever they have a fair field and no favour.”

    Source (google books): Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa, By David Livingstone, Frederick Stanley Arnot, Chapter V - page 64., new edition 1899.

    ReplyDelete
  16. By the way, I sent them another e-mail, this tim to Lance Guma, Violet Gonda and more too.

    Still no reply.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Philbert Muzungaire,

    So this kind of propaganda has a long history. The old argument was that Africans were 'destructive farmers', which became popularized with the term 'slash and burn' agriculture, and therefore should be 'discouraged' from farming. The real reason is quoted in this paragraph, namely "maintenance of the European farmer at the expense of the natives.".


    Quoting from David P. Vickery's excellent Black And White In Southern Zambia - The Tonga Plateau Economy and British Colonialism, 1890-1939, on the introduction of the Maize Control Ordinance (page 206):

    C.S. Knight, who had replaced Murray as the member for Southern Province, had no hesitation in supporting the bill. Without such a measure "it will mean the elimination of the European farmer in the country, and I think we all, if not openly, have at heart the necessity for the European colonisation of this country."

    At the Colonial Office, meanwhile, officials reacted with raised eyebrows to the draft legislation. One termed the plan "one of the most extraordinary schemes I have ever seen." J.A. Calder of the C.O. branded it "ostensibly... but not really fair" because its basic object was "maintenance of the European farmer at the expense of the natives." But the Northern Rhodesian Government permitted LegCo to consider and pass the bill before hearing the Colonial Office reaction. In informing the C.O. of this fact, C.R. Dundas, the Chief Secretary again raised the paternalist argument that even one-quarter of the market was "much above what they [the Africans] should supply if they are to conserve their land." Moreover said Dundas, the idea that Africans might supply one-half the supply was "quite impossible" and flatly predicted that their share would fall short of even the mandated 25 percent.

    A Whitehall pointed out the absurdity of Dundas last argument, with its implication that the division was "completely unnecessary and put in presumably for ornamental purposes".

    ReplyDelete
  18. Continued...

    "Just before deliveries commenced in May, the Board decided, ostensibly for the sake of convenience, to fix in advance the pay-out for African maize. Since it was unclear what the Board's final revenue would be, the price was pegged at "safe", low level.

    Thus Africans who delivered directly to the Board's depots received 5s. per bag the first year and 6s. the next two... These prices fell considerably short (by about one-third in the first three years of the average value of African maize after sales, even given the market division. The difference was paid into a fund set side for price stabilisation and, eventually, African farming improvement.

    On the basis of the calculations upon which the control was introduced, African deliveries for an average year were expected to be 25% of the total, around 58,000 bags. Final figures for the 1936 crop, however, the first under Control, told a radically different story. African deliveries amounted to 234,000 bags, 42% of the total. Probably 75% or more of African production came from the Tonga Plateau. These results produced some red faces in government, to say the least.


    Source: Black And White In Southern Zambia, by David P. Vickery

    There is also the excellent book "Misreading The African Landscape" by James Fairhead and Melissa Leach, on how farmers in West Africa have turned the desert into small oases.

    ReplyDelete

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