Farm labour shortage haunts Zim agric sector
Harare (New Ziana) -The rush to better paying jobs at newly opened gold and lithium mines across the country has seen the agriculture sector suffering immensely from shortage of labour, an official has said.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) executive director Paul Zakariya revealed the development said this during a recent National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF) meeting in the capital while presenting on the current state of the agricultural sector in the country, adding that migration also worsened the situation.
“Shortage of farm labour is one of the challenges the agriculture sector is facing under the prevailing conditions of the economy. This has been necessitated by the emergence of gold and lithium mines in many areas as well as migration locally and abroad.
“This has resulted in farm labour becoming scarcer and more expensive as well as exacerbating labour injustice where there is rampant child labour and participation of pregnant women as noted in tobacco and cotton,” he said.
Zakariya lamented the delays in paying farmers by government entities such as the Grain Marketing Board as it erodes their income, which is paid in the local currency.
“This has left farmers without any option but to lose confidence as the time value of money is not considered on the farmers’ side. The farmers have since been earning eroded revenue since part of the payment is in Zimbabwe dollars, which is facing hyperinflation thereby impacting the farmer negatively,” he said.
He added that limited access to markets remains a stumbling block in the agriculture sector as it has led to the erosion of farmers’ returns even though their productivity is high.
There is need to address the challenges in the sector through a multi-faceted approach that involves investment in infrastructure, policy reform, and support for farmers, he explained.
Zakariya said Zimbabwe has the capacity to improve food security, increase agricultural productivity, and boost economic growth.