Harare – Chinese farmers have reportedly taken over farms that used to belong to white farmers in Zimbabwe.
According to Telegraph, the Chinese farmers had invested extensively in at least five tobacco farms in Mashonaland Central, a province that was traditionally one of the country's best tobacco-producing areas.
The farms would grow and cure about 1 500 acres of tobacco this year.
The new infrastructure, including equipment manufactured by a US Company, Valley Irrigation was estimated to have cost at least $9 129 260.
An unnamed insider in the tobacco industry was quoted saying that the Chinese company would be paying expensive rentals for the land they were now using.
Over the past decade, China has become the biggest investor in Zimbabwe, particular after President Robert Mugabe embarked on a controversial land reform policy in 2000.
Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party launched the land reforms, taking over white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.
Mugabe said the reforms were meant to correct colonial land ownership imbalances.
At least 4 000 white commercial farmers were evicted from their farms.
The land seizures were often violent, claiming the lives of several white farmers during clashes with veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation struggle.
Critics of the reforms have blamed the programme for low production on the farms as the majority of the beneficiaries lacked the means and skills to work the land.
Mugabe vowed in recent years that whites would never be allowed to own land in Zimbabwe, further adding that the few remaining white farmers "must go".
Mugabe claimed that Zimbabwe was "no country for whites" as far as land was concerned.
A recent New24 report revealed that Zimbabwean government had taken at least 9.4 million hectares of commercial land since the land redistribution programme started.
However, according to the Lands and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Berita Chikwama, none of the intended black beneficiaries owned that land.
The deputy minister claimed that there were no tittle deeds that had been issued to the land owners.