Agricultural Commercialisation in Northern Zimbabwe: Crises, Conjunctures and Contingencies, 1890-2020

June 2020
APRA Working Paper 35 (Ian Scoones, Toendepi Shonhe, Terence Chitapi, Caleb Maguranyanga and Simbai Mutimbanyoka)

A paper from the Agricultural Policy Research on Africa (APRA) programme in Zimbabwe supported by a DFID grant to IDS, Sussex. Explores the intersecting factors that have shifted pathways of commercialisation, mostly of tobacco and maize, in Mvurwi area in northern Mazowe district, Zimbabwe, since 1890. Looks at five periods, starting with early colonisation by white settlers, then examines the consolidation of ‘European agriculture’ following World War II, before investigating the liberation war era from the mid-1970s. The period after Independence is then reflected upon, concluding with the period since 2000 and the major land reform programme that transferred significant amounts of land to resettlement schemes for new farmers. Explores the political economy of state-farmer alliances; the pattern of state investment and subsidy in agriculture; changes in agricultural labour regimes; the dynamics of markets; rural-urban migration; and the role of technology and environmental change, asking how each affects what type of commercial agriculture emerges, and where. A central concern is who gains and who loses in this process. Concludes with a reflection on how pathways of commercialisation have emerged through crises, conjunctures and contingencies.