Harare - A Zimbabwean farmers union has reportedly called on the government to protect local farmers, saying that it is against farmers from South Africa who want to cross the border and gain from the country's agricultural opportunities. According to New Zimbabwe.com, the Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe (CFU) director, Ben Gilpin, said that his union would "discourage" farmers from South Africa coming to the southern African country, as they preferred the opportunities be given to the union members. Gilpin said that the union preferred that priority be given to CFU members under a new government policy which extended land leases to at least 99-years.Zimbabwe's land ministry last week issued a directive that would see an end to the discrimination of white farmers as they were now included on a 99-year land lease.Under ex-president Robert Mugabe's government white farmers were allowed to lease the land for only 5-years.The problem But, President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government has scrapped that policy, with the country's eight acting provincial resettlement officers being told that "there should be no more restrictive 5-year leases to white farmers"."We know that there are people in South Africa who want to come across the border and there are people who are even claiming to be agents saying we will find agricultural opportunities in Zimbabwe. We would, as a union, discourage that because of the basis that we want our farmers to be given opportunities."The problem these investments needs money and money is not available locally. There will be interests from outsiders and we hope that in due course there will be necessary measures that will be in place," Gilpin was quoted as saying.FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook.The white farmers in Zimbabwe last week said they remained cautious over the new government land policy, saying that the new government's criteria on who would get land sounded "narrow for now". Thousands of white commercial farmers and their employees were displaced and left without sources of income during the fast-tracked agrarian reforms that were masterminded by Mugabe's administration in 2000.According to the CFU, more than 4000 white farmers were affected by the often violent farm invasions.Some of the white farmers that were kicked out of their properties during the agrarian reforms have now set base in neighbouring countries such as Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.