A tale of two peoples: the influence of race relations on agricultural patterns among Zimbabwean

A tale of two peoples: the influence of race relations on agricultural patterns among Zimbabwean young people

by M. Sibanda, N. Chirinda and D. Nyathi

Since the turn of the millennium, Zimbabwe has experienced a deterioration of race relations due to a state-driven land reform programme. This has been characterised by compulsory acquisition of white-owned farm land and subsequent redistribution to black communities. The impact of this programme has received widespread international and local research attention. Researchers have generally tended to focus on agricultural productivity, food security and livelihood impacts of the land reforms. However, an analysis of the role of race in determining the choice of farming systems and agricultural practices has often been overlooked. Similarly, few studies have included the white minority young people who are still involved in agriculture. A study was therefore conducted between 2009 and 2011 to understand the transformations in agriculture in the context of youth and race relations. This was done by conducting in-depth interviews and focus group discussions in Bubi rural district and in the city of Bulawayo. The study found that while black rural youths focus largely on subsistence agriculture, white youths concentrated on the upstream activities that included food processing, urban-based cattle auctioneering, agricultural retailing and consultancy. Policies and efforts to institutionalise commercial agriculture are urgently needed for the black youths in Zimbabwe if poverty reduction is to be meaningful. Urban agriculture must also be recognised as a major livelihood option for white youths who have been often excluded in agricultural planning processes in recent years. The study concluded that while agriculture paradoxically remains the major source of income for youths in both racial groups, it is possibly the most formidable platform for the improvement of race relations in the country at youth level. Agriculture was found to be a resilient common denominator across the racial divide.

File: Sibanda et al, A tale of two peoples the influence of race relations on agricultural patterns1.pdf