Manase Chiweshe

Manase Chiweshe (2012)

Farm level institutions in emergent communities in post fast track Zimbabwe: case of Mazowe District


 The thesis seeks to understand how emerging communities borne out of the Fast Track Land Reform Programme in Zimbabwe have been able to ensure social cohesion and social service provision using farm level institutions. The Fast Track Programme brought together people from diverse backgrounds into new communities in the former commercial farming areas. The formation of new communities meant that, often, there were ‘stranger households’ living next to each other. Since 2000, these people have been involved in various processes aimed at turning clusters of homesteads into functioning communities through farm level institutions. Fast track land reform precipitated economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe characterised by a rapidly devaluating Zimbabwean dollar, enormous inflation and high unemployment figures. This economic crisis has impacted heavily on new farmers who find it increasingly difficult to afford inputs and access loans. They have formed social networks in response to these challenges, taking the form of farm level institutions such as farm committees, irrigation committees and health committees.

The study uses case studies from small-scale ‘A1 farmers’ in Mazowe District which is in Mashonaland Central Province. It employs qualitative methodologies to enable a nuanced understanding of associational life in the new communities. Through focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, narratives, key informant interviews and institutional mapping the study outlines the formation, taxonomy, activities, roles, internal dynamics and social organisation of farm level institutions. The study also uses secondary data collected in 2007-08 by the Centre for Rural Development in the newly resettled areas in Mazowe.

The major finding of the study is that farmers are organising in novel ways at grassroots levels to meet everyday challenges. These institutional forms however are internally weak, lacking leadership with a clear vision and they appear as if they are transitory in nature. They remain marginalised from national and global processes and isolated from critical connections to policy makers at all levels; thus A1 farmers remain voiceless and unable to have their interests addressed. Farm level institutions are at the forefront of the microeconomics of survival among these rural farmers. They are survivalist in nature and form, and this requires a major shift in focus if they are to be involved in developmental work. The institutions remain fragmented and compete amongst themselves for services from government without uniting as A1 farmers with similar interests and challenges.



Last Modified: Wed, 10 Jun 2015 18:07:24 SAST