SOME residents of Harare are defying a directive by council to stop planting maize on undesignated pieces of land.
BY DON MAKANYANGA
The Harare City Council recently threatened to slash maize planted on undesignated land to curb muggings and cases of assault and murder prevalent during the rainy season.
But many urban farmers told Standardcommunity they will not be deterred by the threat. Ruvarashe Mutombodzi of Highfield high-density suburb said it was unfair to slash the maize as most residents survived on urban agriculture.
“We have been practising this kind of farming for a long time and don’t see how council is going to stop us now as they have failed in the past,” she said.
Another resident in Glenview said council was being selfish in stopping people from planting on unutilised land.
He said people were finding it difficult to buy maize meal hence they have resorted to urban agriculture.
Harare Residents Trust (HRT) director Precious Shumba said council should engage residents on urban agriculture.
“We are dealing with issues of food security and so expecting citizens to simply accept an instruction from a billboard is simplifying issues,” he said.
Shumba urged council to develop the idle land or allow residents to use the unutilised land for agriculture up to a time when it was ready to be developed.
“As long as the council is not doing anything on land belonging to it, the residents will always find it attractive for urban agriculture,” he said.
“The deep levels of poverty have made it extremely difficult for local authorities to regulate the issue of urban agriculture where extremely poor residents are desperate to plant their maize in undesignated areas.”
Shumba said HRT would continue to lobby for an interaction between the local authority and residents.
“We will continue to lobby the council to be regularly communicating with citizens on land developments so that there is enough information.
“Let there be full and genuine engagement on all issues of service provision,” he said.