The research aimed to investigate and give an understanding of diversity of the farming activities of the beneficiaries of the land reform programme in Chegutu District (Ward 12). The farmers were resettled under both the A1 villagised model and the A2 large scale commercial farming model.
The generalised models of A1 and A2 as given by the Government of Zimbabwe do not really characterise the farming and other activities undertaken by beneficiaries of the land reform programme, the study aimed to understand the diversity of the farming activities and hence put the farmers into groups or types as defined by their practices. Diversity in this context means the variation of farming activities of the farmers in the study area. Based on specific parameters, farmers were put in categories/types thereby giving meaning to the diversity of farming activities in the area. The parameters/variables that were used include age of the farmer, the gender of the farmer, the year the farmer was allocated the plot, quality of home infrastructure, the livestock owned, crops produced, the hectarage under each crop and the quantities produced. The other variables that were considered are job status of the plot/farm owner (whether the plot owner have a salaried job or not), the head of the farming activities on the plot/farm and whether the farmer is farming under irrigation or dry land. These parameters, one way or the other, interact with each other thereby influencing the farmer to make decisions that will eventually determine the type of farmer he or she becomes. An attempt was also made to do an economic analysis to assess the profitability of each type of farmers farming operations. By definition, profitability measures the difference between revenue and costs. Revenue is a product of price and quantities of commodities produced while costs are calculated from input quantities and input prices.
The hypotheses that were tested are that:
There is diversity of farming activities amongst the beneficiaries of the Zimbabwe Land Reform Programme in the study area. The farmers in the study area are farming profitably.
The main reason for undertaking the study in the area was that after the Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP), there was need to understand the dynamics with regard to agricultural production among the farmers. Understanding the diversity of farming activities would then inform policy or intervention strategies to be undertaken in support of the beneficiaries of land reform programme. The other reason why the study area was chosen was because the student is a plot holder in the area and therefore an interested part, in addition to that, general observation points to the likelihood of existence of diversity amongst the farming activities in the area and hence the reason to undertake the study in the area. The administrative, traditional and political authorities were approached to get the authorisation to carry out the study in the area. Random interviews were done as a way of pre-testing the questionnaire and some modifications were done to the initial questionnaire. Several transect walks were also done in the study area to observe and have a general understanding of features and activities in the area. The Extension Officers of sub-divisions/areas within the study area were approached to appraise them of the purpose of the study and also to get their generalised overview of the agricultural set up.
Systematic sampling was used per farm targeting a threshold of 10 per cent of the population. Data collection was done from 82 farmers through a patient interview process with the assistance of the Extension Officers who also assisted with transport (motorbikes) to traverse the area. The farmers were generally very co-operative in most instances even though sometimes it was based on them hoping that the research may bring some material support for their farming activities, a notion that was clarified that the research was not going to bring any material support to them at least in the short-term. The last step was the processing of the data which involved both quantitative and qualitative methods in line with objectives and the hypotheses put forward by the study. The typology was developed by an iterative method of continuously refining to ensure a valid and meaningful typology of farmers. An analysis of production activities was also done to check if the farming activities of these beneficiaries of the land reform programme were making any economic sense. The farming activities are basically a function of what resources the farmers have, the conditions under which they farm and the external support received from government or other agencies with interest in agricultural development.
The land use practices included a mixture of both irrigated and dry land crop production systems, livestock rearing and vegetable gardening (mainly for home consumption). The farmers are keen to farm on a commercial farming level basis, but non-use of equipment by most farmers in the study area make their production level to remain at subsistence level. Most farmers generally expressed satisfaction with the offer letters as proof of land ownership, but indicated that any strengthening of land ownership especially with title deeds that could allow them to access loans from banks was most welcome.