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Council approves urban farming


THE Bulawayo City Council is making efforts to embrace urban agriculture with the city fathers approving various applications to lease land for farming around the city, according to a council agenda document.


With financial challenges plaguing residents, most have turned to agriculture which helps a lot of urban households to meet their dietary requirements and even sell to local markets to meet some of their financial obligations, particularly school fees for children.

Council has previously been criticised for publishing notices in the local press warning residents against cultivating on undesignated land saying crops grown in such areas would be destroyed and perpetrators fined or prosecuted.

But, the council agenda noted projects,  for example, those in Old Pumula and Nketa, which have been allowed and therefore designated.


Councillor Clayton Zana, on behalf of Old Pumula residents, was allowed to lease 9 000 square metres at a monthly rental of $38, subject to review at the pleasure of council.

“The lease period is five years which is subject to review at the pleasure of council and no permanent structures should be erected on the property,” the document read.

Similar agreements were also noted for individual applicants such as Cuthbert Munatsi and Gladys and Zuzile Moyo, who also applied for agricultural land in Harrisvale and Nkulumane respectively.

In June 2014, the local authority converted its three to five-year agricultural leases for plot holders to 25 years to boost agricultural investment and production as well as to create jobs and ensure food security.

Plot holders had been requesting  long-term leases for protracted periods, but council resisted and stuck to the short-term agreements arguing that it might require the land in future for other projects. Bulawayo mayor Martin Moyo said the efforts were deliberate attempts to help residents as the economy was bad.

“The people you see farming in suburbs are the same people engaged in industry, but there is little activity there so they turn to farming and that is why we try to accommodate them in every way possible,” he said.

“We will not slash your crop if it is not in a prohibited area and this is basically within 30 metres of the high flood level of any body of artificially conserved water.”

Moyo said not everybody applied for land, but the council would always consider people who have taken up spaces for farming and not allow anyone to be displaced through a formal process.

“If you drive down Harare Road there are many people farming there and they respect each other’s space without our regulation as none of these people have applied for this land to us, so as long as people farm within legal areas we have no problem,” he said.

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