The following figures are intended to give a sense of the kinds of agri-property farm invaders could gain through sufficient levels of violence, influence and persistence. The first figure shows front-wheel assisted and two-wheel drive tractors, both operating with farm implements. The equipment also signals the presence of other valuable assets on the farm. These tractors would have been repaired and serviced in a farm workshop that would contain valuable spare parts and tools. The farm would have stores of diesel, oil, fertilizers, seed and chemicals. The kinds of crops grown in Mashonaland, such as cotton, maize, soya beans, and tobacco, all tend to be labour intensive. The tractors drivers in these figures, along with some other workers, would likely have been housed in brick structures provided by the farmer. These could have been stripped of their roofs and fittings by invaders.
Of course, not all agri-property was located in Mashonaland. One figure in the following slideshow depicts a tractor and farm equipment in Masvingo province. This figure also shows diesel fuel storage tanks (on stands), spare tyres, and water pumps. The building on the right of the figure is a workshop for servicing and repairing equipment. This building would have contained valuable tools, stores of oil, and spare parts. All of these assets would have been accessible to farm invaders to seize and sell for profit.
Depending on the crop type, some farmers required specialised building and equipment for post-harvest preparation. Maize typically needs to be dried in coal-heated grain dryers whereas tobacco must be cured in heated barns. All crops require transportation to their respective points of sale, adding to the extensive equipment required. One figure in the following slideshow depicts a large grain dryer in Mashonaland Central. This building contained numerous electric motors, augers, a coal-fired heat exchanger and stores of coal. The corrugated iron roof and electrical wire also presented a resource, along with the two red farm implements on the left of the photograph and trailers on the right, all of which could be seized and sold by farm invaders for profit.
Crops also presented a large incentive for farm invaders. Evidence in this book shows that some invaders specifically targeted farms during harvest time. This meant that the farmer would have expended the capital to purchase the seed and tend the crop. In addition, it was with the farmer’s expertise that the crop was grown. The invader could then seize the crop at harvest time expending little or no capital but gaining 100% of the profits.
The following figure gives an indication of the kind of values involved in a tobacco crop in Mashonaland Central. This figure shows a tobacco crop of about 50 hectares. Mechanisation in the straight, planted rows is evident, as is the commercial value of the crop. This tobacco would have been attended to while it was growing by using various types of equipment from trailers, to tractors and sprayers. After harvesting, the tobacco is cured on the farm, graded and packed in bales and sent to the tobacco auction floors for sale. Workers, many of whom were highly skilled, would live on the farm and play important roles in crop production. From the farm equipment, to the stores of fuel and chemicals, to worker housing, this one figure represents a vast amount of available agri-property.
For a 50 hectare tobacco crop, the total cost from planting seedbeds to final sale would be about US$8,000 per hectare, or US$400,000 in total. As such, the value of the crop itself would represent an enormous financial opportunity for a farm invader to seize at harvest time.
Example Tobacco Crop in Mashonaland Central
Not all crops needed to be grown on a large scale in order to present an inviting target for invaders. The following figures indicate the scale and intensiveness of a typical operation growing commercial roses in Mashonaland Central. Roses in this set-up totalled 4.7 hectares in green houses, all watered and fertilised with drip irrigation. Excluding the pack houses and movable equipment, but including irrigation and cost of root stock, the investment was approximately US$705,000 in total, or about US$150,000 per hectare (on the high end in 1999). Pack houses and three cold rooms (to store cut plants) cost an additional US$300,000. Extensive electrical wiring to power irrigation equipment, cold rooms, and ventilation fans was required. The site also had two separate boreholes (one as backup) for water supply, over 7km of dripper line, spraying equipment, large water storage tanks and a truck to transport the crop. From an invader’s point of view this farm would therefore be a lucrative target.