The state-controlled media reported Monday that small scale communal farmers will be required to pay 10 U.S. dollars rental levies and 5 U.S. dollars development levies per year, while big commercial farmers will pay 3 dollars per hectare per year in rentals and another 2 dollars per hectare per year in development levy.
Those who fail to pay for three consecutive quarters will have their offer letters to occupy the land cancelled, it added.
“The development levy shall be used to meet expenditure on projects within the rural district council area from which the levy was collected,” the Finance Act says.
Among earmarked projects are roads, clinics, schools, dip tanks and environmental conservation and rehabilitation.
The beneficiaries of the land reform program had hitherto not paid any rentals and levies to the government, benefiting more instead from government farmer support programs under which they were given seed, fertilizers and in some cases subsidized fuel.
Prior to the land reforms, about 4,000 white farmers owned most of the prime land in the country while blacks were crammed in poor agricultural regions.
More than 12 million hectares representing about a third of prime agricultural land previously owned by the white minority farmers have so far been parcelled out to the formerly landless blacks.
However, the reforms did not address the problem of underutilization of land as the majority of the new farmers do not have the necessary skills.
While some of the beneficiaries are genuinely trying to farm, others use the land for weekend sojourns to merry with friends and families and are commonly referred to as cellphone farmers.
Successive droughts in recent two years have also made farming difficult for many beneficiaries.
Agriculture is a pillar economic department for Zimbabwe, providing income and employment to 70 percent of the country’s population. Zimbabwe’s main cash crops are tobacco and cotton, the two representing 21 percent of the export earnings. Enditem