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Thursday, 2 August, 2001, 22:39 GMT 23:39 UK
Zimbabwe targets more white farms
Farm occupation
War veterans are involved in the take-over of land
The Zimbabwean Government says it has almost doubled the amount of white-owned land earmarked for the resettlement of blacks.

In his first ever address to the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) the Land Minister, Joseph Made, told white farmers that the government now plans to resettle not less than 8.3 million hectares - 90% of white-owned land instead of the original five million.

Joseph Made at the CFU conference
Mr Made warned white farmers not to contest re-distribution
Mr Made said the government would defend its actions in court and he warned farmers not to slow down the land reform process by contesting it.

"If (you) continue contesting the issues of land beyond any reasonable limit... then I think we are going to have a problem," he said.

Earlier, the CFU had appealed to the government to end the seizure of their farms by blacks.

Farmers defiant

Speakers at the conference said they would continue to fulfil their "obligation to society" as farmers and described current redistribution schemes as politically motivated.

Farmer at the CFU conference
Farmers say they will try to survive the current crisis
"As farmers, we have to do the best we can to survive the present chaos and be ready once more to play our part when the time comes," CFU deputy director Jerry Grant said.

"The country will once more be governed pragmatically and responsibly," he added.

Farmers vowed to press forward with an alternative plan to hand over one million hectares and provide support services to re-settled farmers.

The government is yet to endorse the proposal.

Production fall

War veterans and militants who support the government's land policy have been involved in the violent take-over of white owned land.

Sharp falls in agricultural production in the commercial sector over the past year have been blamed on lawlessness during the take-overs.

And farmers estimate that overall production of food and tobacco will fall by over 25% this year.

The BBC's Andrew Harding
"Zimbabwe's white farmers emerged from their emergency meeting trying hard to sound both united and optimistic"
Matt Crawford, member of Commercial Farmers Union
"We welcome any sort of mediators"
See also:

21 Mar 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe farmers call for talks
20 Mar 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe snubs Commonwealth
09 Mar 01 | Africa
Violence haunts white farmers
04 Jul 00 | Africa
Forced to flee Zimbabwe
10 Feb 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Zimbabwe's descent into violence
26 Oct 00 | Africa
Mugabe under pressure
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