Agriculture in Southern Africa

by Clifford Deale

Dr. Mick Gammon wrote the following in the magazine The Rhosarian (October 2009): “The first white hunters, traders and missionaries who in the 19th century came to the region which was to become Rhodesia and subsequently Zimbabwe, found a land devoid of infrastructure. The wheel was not yet in use. Early travellers recorded travelling often for days without seeing any human habitation. Commercial farming started in the 1890’s on what was for the most part virgin land. There were no roads or railways, there was no electricity or telephone, there were no fences, boreholes, pumps, windmills, dams, or irrigation schemes; there were no cattle dips, barns or other farm buildings.

These first commercial farmers had to discover how to contend with predators that killed their livestock plus other animals that consumed their crops and how to control diseases, pests and parasites of livestock and crops that were foreign to them. From this starting point, agriculture developed faster than it had anywhere else in the world.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Year Book of 1975 ranked the then Rhodesia second in the world in terms of yields of maize, wheat, soya beans and ground nuts, and third for cotton. In the combined ranking for all these crops, Rhodesia ranked first in the world.

Rhodesia’s Virginia tobacco was rated the best in the world in yield and quality, while maize entries in world championships were consistently placed in the first three slots. The world’s largest single citrus producer was developed early in the country’s history.

Rhodesia was the world’s second largest exporter of flue-cured tobacco. This together with exports of maize, soya beans, cotton, sugar, coffee, tea, fruit, vegetables, flowers and beef made agriculture the major source of foreign currency. Agriculture contributed more to the gross domestic product than any other industry. It was the largest employer of labor, providing employment for about a third of the total labor force.”

The story of the effect these farmers had on the social welfare of their labor and beyond is nothing less than inspiring. But the cultural deficiencies of those who wanted power at all costs, so clearly outlined in the Forum for Food Security mentioned above, destroyed the breadbasket of Africa. These same “cultural deficiencies” are evident in South Africa’s ruling elite, and if food security in South Africa is to be preserved, agricultural production must remain in the hands of SA’s commercial farmers. There is no other way to preserve food security. No other way!

Comments for Agriculture in Southern Africa

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Utter Rubbish!
by: Terence

Surely if you are a doctor whatever your field of study, be further educated. What your are saying aims to maintain a status-quo and be rest assured, South Africa will soon be on fire if they continue with the current situation where the apartheid land ownership is not addressed. Remember the blacks toiled under an unjust system and now that there is independence does not mean that centuries of inequality have been addressed. What happened in Zimbabwe is alright and it is a just temporary set back.

40 Years Later
by: Mike Cavangh

The writer is expressing his opinion Terence, and what is the status quo 40 years later, unfortunately some people are born to be farmers, you cannot instill farming on a commercial basis on subsidy farmers, who only live for today, the "bread basket" of Africa is no more, as a South African, I watch as our farmers are murdered, our Universities are burnt, where to now Brutus ?
Edmund Burke : "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing".
Maybe our farmers should burn the farms and let them all starve hey !

Pro Lege
by: Ntabenede

I believe that Dr. Gammon has raised the issue of law and order, security of tenure and the sovereign right of a citizen to own some form of property in Southern Africa. Added these factors a country needs a great depth of skill at a number of levels to support commercial agriculture to feed the population. When Zimbabwe got Independence in 1980 it just a few years before Mr Mugabe carried out a genocide in Matabeleland. I imagine that Terrence is perhaps not a Maphosa, Moyo or Nkala from Kezi or Tsholotsho - or he would be condoning genocide of his family? I even know a man from Matabeleland whose father was murdered in that period and now he runs the biggest potato farm in the entire of Australia. Just in the last week I have read that Zimbabwe has 5 or 6 million people needing food aid. It all depends how we might interpret that everything is OK in Zimbabwe? Is it ok for the opposition MP held for over six months without trial? Is it okay for the 95% unemployed? Is it okay for the families of the people that were shot by the ZNA during he coup? Is it okay for the people being evicted from farms that were resettled on 15 years ago? Is it okay for the people who have their money stolen by Zanu as and when Zanu feel like it? OK is a big term? Interestingly Dr Gammon was never racial about commercial farmers - but that they need to be skilled. There were 300 000 people employed on commercial farms when Mugabe too his great step forward for mankind with the farm looting - but how many today? Mrs Mugabe is enjoying her wealth overseas now so that is ok!

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