Fisheries and livestock Minister Professor Nkandu Luo has reiterated that her decision to repossess all the land that was offered to individuals on all state farms belonging to her ministry is final
Professor Luo says her ministry has notified the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources on the matter and will not allow land meant for livestock research and production to be turned into residential property.
She says nobody has the right to give out land except the Ministry of Lands and wondered who generated the decision or letter to change the land use of state ranches from livestock production to residential use.
Professor Luo was reacting to the status reports on land encroachment and acquisition on Harmony Farm and Batoka Ranch in Choma, Southern Province.
‘This whole issuance of residential land on property meant for livestock sounds ‘fishy’, I will get to the bottom of this’ Luo promised.
In his report, centre manager for Harmony farm and Mochipapa Training Centre Shimbombo Mposha briefed the minister that from the time harmony farm was established, the farm had 4,000 hectares of land and has now remained with 2100 hectares.
Mr. Mposha says most of the land was demarcated and hived off in past years for various reasons and at the time farm was being handed over to the Livestock Development Trust only 2,100 had remained.
‘of this 2,100 hectares, the council recently demarcated off 834 hectares which it has offered to residents leaving us with 1,266 at the moment’ Mposha said.
He says out of the 13 paddocks the farm had, 4 have been cleared to pave way for residential houses leaving only 9 paddocks.
‘These new development have brought challenges of encroachment, trespassing and stock theft at the farm’ lamented Mposha.
Mr. Mposha asked the minister to state the clear position on the land issue at harmony farm and appealed for fencing to secure the land and livestock.
Professor Luo assured her staff that harmony farm shall remain harmony farm and urged all those with titles and offer letter to shred and burn them in the gas stoves.
‘it is totally unacceptable and I am sorry I will not accept it. I have made it clear, no one is going to share the land, full stop’ Luo said.
She says government has clinched a deal to export goats to Saudi Arabia and wondered how it is going to be possible if the land to realise this is being taken over.
‘Where do you expect me to produce the goats, on my head? The plots at harmony farm belong to cattle, pigs, goats and chicken and not people.
Professor Luo directed the council not to tamper with the 834 hectares of land it demarcated and offered for residential use at harmony farm.
‘we are going to immediately fence off the whole 2100 hectares and anyone found trespassing or claiming ownership of any piece of land will be prosecuted.
She called on Southern Province Minister Dr. Edify Hamukale to ensure that the police intensify patrols on the state farms.
Meanwhile Dr. Hamukale says 14 people have so far for been arrested for criminal trespass and charcoal burning in Harmony farm.
Dr. Hamukale says his administration will ensure the law takes in course on anyone found wanting because harmony farm is crucial to the development of the livestock sector in Southern province.
‘we need to revive and preserve the reputation of this farm because the breeding and research activities at harmony are key in supporting the governments restocking programmes across the country’ Dr. Hamukake said.
He appealed to the ministry of fisheries and livestock to increase financial support to the livestock state farm and ensure that they have business plan.
‘If our state farms are supported with proper investment, they have the potential to be self-sustaining and generate their own income instead of perpetually depending on government support’ He added.
Harmony farm is located 13 kilometres from Choma town with the core business of beef, dairy and goat production specialising in boran, jersey and boar goat breeds.
Currently the farm has 141 beef cattle while 72 dairy cattle and about 90 goats are at Mochipapa Training centre.
With 2100 hectares, harmony farm has a holding capacity of 3000 breeding goats and 400 breeding cows.
The problem of land encroachment is not isolated to harmony alone, the National Fisheries and Livestock Development Centre (NFLDC), formally Batoka ranch in choma is also affected.
NFLDC manager Gershom Mwanza says the 9,070 hectares of land has been seriously enchroached and the fence vandalised by the surrounding community.
Mr. Mwanza says the fence has been cut for people to access grazing land at the centre for their livestock while the trees are cut down for poles and charcoal production.
‘we are appealing to the authorities to protect the area by fencing because we are now experiencing livestock theft’ Mwanza said.
The NFLDC has 63 dairy and 85 beef breeding cattle, 85 breeding goats and over 1000 chickens at its centre.