Tobacco remains an important cash crop to this day.

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: : Zimbabwe 1894-1969: Agriculture in Rhodesia

After failing to get the desired profits and discovering the second Rand in mining, the settlers turned to agriculture

  • The European settlers did not immediately utilize the land they had acquired since entering Zimbabwe
  • This was due to
    1. They lacked investment capital and equipment
    2. There were still limited non-existent external markets and also internal markets
    3. There were no efficient road network links, transport and railways
    4. Rinderpest an east coast fever affected most of their cattle
    5. Droughts and locusts affected the crops
    6. There was no regular labour supply
  • The period from 1890-1908 gave ground to Shona peasant farmers to have successful farming
  • An industrial revolution which took place saw an increase in the prices of farm produce increasing their profits
  • Also the number of cattle owned by Africans increased from 43 926 in 1901 to 195 837
  • In this manner, Africans could pay taxes after selling their products rather than by working for the whites
  • However, for the Ndebele the story was different as their economy had been shattered during the wars
  • The Ndebele resorted to being labourers to meet their tax obligations
  • In 1903, 20% of the Shona men worked for Europeans whilst 50% of the Ndebele worked for whites
  • This did not go down well with European Native Commissioners in Mashonaland
  • The Land Settlement Committee was set up in 1905 which was responsible for encouraging European farming so that the settler could reduce the import bill and improve road networks
  • In 1908 the settlers changed the agricultural policy
  • The Agricultural Reforms Implemented by whites destroyed African farming and these include:
    1. A Land Bank was set up to help Europeans acquire land in 1912.
    2. European agriculture was subsidized
    3. The Department of Agriculture was established in 1908 to implement agricultural policies
    4. Two research stations were set up at Salisbury and Gwebi in 1909 whilst Rhodes Inyanga (Nyanga) and Matopo Estates were established in 1917
    5. Agricultural training centres were established at Domboshawa and Tsholotsho
    6. Extension officers were available to demonstrate how to use modern farming methods
    7. Rewards were given to master farmers
    8. European farmers were given new production technology especially those farming tobacco and maize
    9. New markets for maize and tobacco were established
    10. Maize was exported to the U.K starting from 1909, beef from 1916
    11. Pricing policies discriminating against African good s were introduced, e.g. Maize Control Amendment Act of 1934
    12. African farmers experienced losses and were evicted from their farms either directly or indirectly through imposition of several financial burdens and others
    13. Tobacco became the most important crop earning the name the Golden Leaf and the Tobacco Marketing Act of 1936 was introduced
    14. Higher breeds of maize breeds were introduced which improved yields by 39-40%
    15. In 1940 the Maize Seed Association was established
    16. Quasi-government or parastatals were established which promoted agriculture through marketing e.g Maize and Dairy Marketing Board, Tobacco Marketing Board and Cold Storage Commission
    17. A board to deal with conservation of the environment called the Natural Resources Board was established to deal with issues such as dam building and contour ridging
    18. The Agricultural Marketing Authority was established in 1967 to control and coordinate agricultural activities
  • Many Europeans with agricultural knowledge were attracted to buy land and a lot of land was sold after these reforms
  • From 1908-1914, five and half million acres of land was sold
  • African farmers went to settle in reserves with little productivity
  • After the Unilateral Declaration of Independence of Rhodesia (UDI) in 1965, economic sanctions were imposed on Rhodesia
  • Agriculture survived the sanctions era through governmental support but later it became less profitable

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