For most farm workers, the main resource with which to obtain food is cash income. The other resources basically supplement this one. Such is the case with small pieces of land allocated by a commercial farmer to workers to grow vegetables and maize.
In most cases, this land was a token amount, often less than one acre per worker. For instance, in two Mashonaland West districts, 40 per cent of farm workers were provided with plots of land ranging from half an acre to an acre to produce crops for their own consumption (Sachikonye and Zishiri, 1999). But this was an ad hoc arrangement between the farmer and the workforce. The farm workers in the survey sample sought to have the amount of land for their own use increased, arguing that their farming expertise would enable them to take advantage of an increased hectarage. In 2000, a survey noted that about 47 per cent of farm workers in its sample had access to pieces of arable land, ranging in size from less than an acre to two acres (FCTZ, 2000). This was too little for self-sufficient food production, and it explains why cash was the dominant resource for food for 95 per cent of that survey sample (ibid).
In any case, farm worker households found it difficult to devote adequate time to their allotments because the planting season coincided with the peak period for labour demand on the farm. Our survey found that the practice of providing small allotments to farm workers still existed, although the circumstances were changing quickly as settlers and new farmers moved in. The majority of farm workers had entitlement to small pieces of land for vegetable and maize production. But this varied by province: in Matabeleland and Masvingo allotments were granted on 50 per cent of the farms studied and on 65 per cent in Manicaland (field interviews, October-November 2002). In Mashonaland East, only a quarter of the farms provided workers with land. On the whole, however, of the 484 respondents who answered the question of access to land, 249 had up to two acres each, 35 had two to four acres, 25 had four to six acres and 71 had more than 6 acres (ibid). These respondents, however, included a number of new settlers.