Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has admitted failures in the country’s controversial land reform programme that many experts believe contributed to the collapse of the country’s economy.
“I think the farms we gave to people are too large. They can’t manage them,” the 91-year-old leader said according to a BBC report.
In the past the Zimbabwean president blamed poor agricultural productivity on the weather and Western sanctions.
The seizure of land from white farmers is seen as a key factor in Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown since 2000.
They point to continuous problems in accounting for low production levels and the under-utilisation of farms, which reflect badly thought-out land policies, he says.
Mr Mugabe, was interviewed on the state broadcaster ZBC to mark his 91st birthday, which he celebrated last weekend.
He said he wanted to encourage farmers to go into wheat farming, and blamed low productivity on the new commercial farmers for failing to utilise all their land.
“You find that most of them are just using one third of the land,” Zimbabwe’s state-owned Herald newspaper quotes him as saying.
During the colonial era, the best farmland was reserved for the white population and in 2000, Mr Mugabe spearheaded the seizure of the land from some 4,000 white farmers.
His critics say the land was handed out to his political allies and many of the beneficiaries were not given the equipment or training to farm productively, leading to the collapse of the agriculture-based economy.