|US$12m agric fund launched|
|Friday, 07 September 2012 00:00|
THE Zimbabwe Development Trust has unveiled a US$12 million Credit for Agricultural Trade and Expansion Fund (CreateFund) to benefit those involved in the sector’s value chain. The money will be lent through three funding windows — inputs, output marketing and storage processing. Agro-dealers, traders, transporters, smallholder-to-medium processors, wholesalers and contracting companies are set to benefit.
Speaking at the official launch, CreateFund manager Mr Herbert Makova said the fund was established after realising the pivotal role of access to credit in the recovery of Zimbabwe’s agriculture and the acute shortage of appropriately priced and structured credit instruments in the financial markets.
“Farmers and agro-dealers lack the capacity to turn their businesses into bankable enterprises in order to access loans,” he said.
“Smallholder farmers also lack fixed property or collateral and CreateFund is providing access to finance and increasing the income for smallholder farmers.”
Mr Makova said the fund provides low-cost working capital support to smallholder farmers by funding to value chain business.
“We have roped in experts in other disciplines, such as banks and SNV-Hivos who have the experience in dealing with farmers in that regard.
“The fund wants to stimulate the relationship between farmers and other stakeholders.”
Mr Makova said under the facility, banks would not demand collateral. So far, US$3,5 million has been distributed, with Manicaland province having the highest number of beneficiaries, ranging from input suppliers, processors, contractors and traders.
“We are also going to come up with innovative financial models, collaborating with similar initiatives and also mobilising resources locally, regionally and internationally.
Agricultural expert Professor Mandivamba Rukuni urged Government to invest in smallholder farming since this was the major producing sector. He said during the colonial era, the then government was the major investor in the agriculture sector.
He said it had invested in land and human resources development, technological products and services, rural financing and physical and biological infrastructure.
“It took 70 years from 1890 to 1940 for the agriculture sector to be viable,” he said.
Prof Rukuni bemoaned the current situation in the cotton industry where the three major stakeholders — growers, ginners and Government — did not trust each other. He said the cotton sector should emulate the tobacco industry, which he said had flourished over the years.