Governance of grazing lands and schemes in Zimbabwe with emphasis on schemes in Masvingo province
Mugabe, Prisca H.
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There have been concerns about land degradation and many other problems associated with agricultural production in the communal lands (areas) of Zimbabwe. Concern over high stocking rates of livestock, “overgrazing”, and what was perceived as a low level of productivity in peasant farming areas was first expressed by government officials in the 1920s and has over the years involved several attempts to restructure land use settlement patterns (Cousins, 1988). These attempts include the introduction of grazing schemes. Grazing schemes are interventions aimed at, firstly, improving livestock productivity in communal areas, and secondly, conserving the vegetation cover of grazing land and reducing the risk of irreversible environmental degradation (Cousins, 1988). It was assumed that the low productivity was due to poor management, both of stock and range-land feed resources, and that the high stocking rates caused severe land degradation. In general, grazing schemes in the Zimbabwe communal areas aim to control stock numbers, restrict access to communal range-land by means of fences, and manage the range-land by means of rotational resting systems. Grazing schemes have involved the modification of traditional tenure rules and the development of a new kind of resource management institution, the committee. Sometimes management decisions and procedures are embodied in sets of by-laws, formally written down and officially sanctioned or else informally held in the memories of community members. They are an example of the evolution of common property management systems.