The Political Economy of Agricultural Commercialisation in Zimbabwe

April 2018
Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Working Paper 12 (Toendepi Shonhe, University of Cape Town)

Debates on Zimbabwe’s agricultural development have centred on different framings of agriculture viability and land redistribution, which are often antagonistic. Across the divide, commercialisation of agriculture is seen as efficient and poverty-reducing. Explores how contrasting debates have played out in Zimbabwe over time, and what interests are aligned with different positions. Locates the discussion in a critical examination of the politics of agrarian change and presents a review of winners and losers. Explores power, political and institutional incentives driving commercialisation in the post-2000 period. Argues that competing interests within the state, the ruling party, opposition movements, the agricultural bureaucracy and across fractions of capital have shaped land and commercialisation over time. Posits that these ongoing contests are influencing the outcomes of the land reform of 2000, illustrated with an examination of two value chains linked to agricultural commercialisation in Mvurwi area of Mazowe district.