US$1bn package for agric

President Mugabe greets (from left) Cdes Olivia Muchena, Victoria Chitepo and Ednah Madzongwe on arrival for a Politburo meeting at Zanu-PF Headquarters in Harare yesterday.

President Mugabe greets (from left) Cdes Olivia Muchena, Victoria Chitepo and Ednah Madzongwe on arrival for a Politburo meeting at Zanu-PF Headquarters in Harare yesterday.

Business Reporter
NEARLY US$1 billion has been earmarked for the support of crop and livestock production in the 2013/2014 farming season to ensure Zimbabwe reclaims its status as the bread basket of Southern Africa. The collapse of the inclusive Government following Zanu-PF’s resounding election victory seems to have unclogged funding streams with the financial sector expressing confidence in the new Government which yesterday announced a further US$161 million support to agriculture on top of the US$620 million that the Bankers’ Association of Zimbabwe mobilised and US$100 that the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe pumped into the sector last week.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday announced the US$161 million facility, which he said would be for the Government’s input support programme targeting 1,6 million communal, old resettled, small-scale (former purchase areas) and A1 farmers.

Minister Chinamasa made the announcement at a Press conference that was also attended by his Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development counterpart Dr Joseph Made, following agreements in Cabinet on supporting farmers in particular and agriculture in general.

He said the basic input package would comprise 10 kilogrammes maize/small grain seed, 50kg compound D fertiliser, 50kg ammonium nitrate fertiliser and 50kg lime to improve the quality of the soil.

The initiative resonates well with Zanu-PF’s pledge in the run-up to the July 31 harmonised elections to support farmers, grow and develop agriculture once elected into office.

To that end, US$157,9 million would go towards finance production and/or importation of inputs with US$39 084 000 for seed, US$50 483 500 for compound D fertiliser, US$56 997 500 for AN fertiliser and US$11 399 500 for lime.

Minister Chinamasa said US$530 000 would go towards the rehabilitation of the District Development Fund, while US$2,6 million has been earmarked to improve the handling capacity of the Grain Marketing Board.

But in implementing the programme, Minister Chinamasa said the Government was cognisant of the need to clear outstanding payments to producers for last year’s supplies.

“Hence, in addition to the input support programme, it is critical that attention is given to outstanding payments to input suppliers which stand at US$11,8 million arising from previous seasons.”

The Government would then disburse US$40 million towards fertiliser manufacturers for supplies required under the 2013/4 season agriculture input support programme.

Minister Chinamasa said Government had also secured US$120 million private sector support for the production of seed and fertiliser, which may need to be augmented by imports.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation in partnership with other donors, he said, had indicated readiness to partner Government with a US$19,25 million contribution targeting 77 800 farmers.

Minister Made said the 2013/14 season was the last season in which Government would provide direct input support to farmers as focus would now turn to subsidising manufacturers to lower input costs.

“For a long time we have been saying subsidising the manufacturers is the preferred form because it assists us as agriculture not to be involved in the day-to-day allocation of inputs to farmers.

“If we subsidise the manufacturers of inputs to lower the cost of production, the farmers will be able to purchase the inputs on their own. Also, if the farmers are paid timeously, they will at least be able to purchase their own input, that is how farming should be,” said Minister Made.

He said Cabinet agreed at Tuesday’s meeting that going forward the real anchor will be mechanisation and irrigation development to mitigate difficulties in terms of the staple crop, maize.

As such, focus will be on developing full-scale and supplementary irrigation for winter cropping.
Discussions are still in progress with the banking sector on how A2 and commercial farmers can be assisted amid indications that most agricultural financial facilities are being finalised.

“At the moment we have not yet concretised support to A2 farmers, but obviously some of them will make their own arrangements but we would like this arrangement to be more concrete so that banks tell us specifically what they will put to agriculture,” Minister Chinamasa said.

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  • Zimbo1

    This is good news and from now on commercial and resettled farmers should deliver or be relocated to urban farming, proper management of the funds need to be done otherwise the bulk will be given to materialistic farmers only interested in using the money for buying a lavish lifestyle. With the new drought tolerant maize varieties announced by the SIRDIC some of the funds should be used to produce more maize seed of this variety for low rainfall areas.

  • majetsha

    its disappointing to note that both ministers of finance n agriculture do not consider the national herd as part of their agricultural improvements plans.they donot even talk about assisting cattle and other livestock farmers. where do we go for assistance then?

    • ngozia

      Do not be disappointed bro give them light and they will follow it. what do you suggest we should do together? pliz do not be disappointed it is the worst state for any visionary and progressive farmer , lets think outside the box and ask ourselves ‘what do we have ?’ and start to plan from what we already have. In my view anyboby has something that can be turned around to make a fortune for him/her and others. Only the majority do not realize they have something. Lets be progressive ,positive , and optimistic even the hardest pressed of our people can pull through. One mudhumeni was just telling me 1d 1an will work well for farmers who practice CONSERVERTION AGRICULTURE vemakomba because one bag goes a long way. Food for thought!

  • Mitsidzo

    The ‘earmarked’ agricultural package appears to be increasing almost daily, at this rate we’ll reach US$3 billion by the end of the month, amazing! Now for the hard part, effective and efficient use of these loans, giving support to the right people and competent farmers. Followed by the hardest part, ensuring the financial sector recovers in full the amounts loaned and interests accrued.
    We all pray for the success of this initiative and a profitable and bumper harvest for everyone. Failure is not an option! If the efforts and procedures put in place for this season come to nought, any future government programs will inevitably be snubbed by all financial institutions. Let’s remain positive and keep a constant eye on the ball, making certain all funds disbursed are correctly and openly accounted for and reach their final destination, leaving absolutely no opportunity for parasitic corrupt pockets to be filled along the way.

    • Makavhota

      You are naive my friend, you dont know how the ZanuPF machinery works. Remember the RBZ mechanisation programme- how many ordinary folk benefitted from that? On top of that there was the Maguta program which saw a lot on chefs build infrastructure via loans provided by RBZ. All those loans were never paid back and RBZ has now been sued by companies who provided equipment under the programme.
      Just give yourself until 2018 and you will see what sort of people are in charge of our once vibrant economy. We will be lucky if the GDP is still US$10 billion.

      • Chikonzi

        If you read between the lines of Mitsidzo’s ironic comment, it was designed to draw attention to certain points where Zanu-PF’s agricultural strategy has consistently failed in the past, their consequences, and why history will repeat itself. Very much the same points you’ve highlighted?

  • ngozia

    Support ye agriculture inotendwa chose request is to push the help from 1d 1an to at least 4D and 4 AN plus 25 kg. help us to be objective and productive because more farmers have turned to maize production and are ready. just try SANYATI THIS TIME WE ARE READY TO WORK FOR THIS WONDERFUL NATION. Zvaitwa nomusangano zvaonekwa zvirambe zvakadaro shefu.

    • bright future

      Basa iri iguru rinotendwa chose…
      Ndinodawo kubvunza kuti mari idzi pane ane ruzivo here kuti dzichatanga kupuhwa riini? uye kupi? materms acho akamira sei kusanganisira interest?
      Kana paine ane ruzivo atibatsirewo….
      Tatenda

  • gina

    Minister Made said the 2013/14 season was the last season in which
    Government would provide direct input support to farmers….” This marks the end of cheap politicking which will resurrect come election years. Cry my beloved Zimbabwe if your electorate did not see this coming when Zanu PF was promising this kiki.

  • svinurai

    Totenda dzanwa n’ombe dzaswera nebenzi or totenda maruva dzaashakata especially the $620 million said to be sourced by the Bankers’ Association.

    • MweniTafara

      Chokwadi tinotenda dzamwa n’ombe nokuti kumwa mvura zvinoreva kuti dzaguta asi kuguta kunogona kureva kuti dzasaidzirwa mumunda wemunhu nebenzi!!!!!

  • bodo_kwete

    please haverst rain first!!

  • Chikiz

    This may be a good step but the quantities given to farmers do not seem to make sense? “He said the basic input package would comprise 10 kilogrammes maize/small grain seed, 50kg compound D fertiliser, 50kg ammonium nitrate fertiliser and 50kg lime to improve the quality of the soil….” Do they give the same input quantities to different scale farmers because these quantities are not for real agricultural production…

  • Progressive Zimbabwean

    I think there is need to look into the sources of some of these funds before we celebrate. For now they will remain on paper until they reach intended recipients. We all know the problem Cdes. Banks will seek collateral unless government provides guarantees. You will then have good intentions not yielding the desired results. So the USD620 million may not reach the farmers. I know of farmers who have failed to take off in the past 7 years simply because no bank has had confidence to support them. The government packages come as a one-size-fits -all and thus have failed to address individual farmer’s needs.