Government has issued Treasury Bills amounting to $50 million to raise funds for irrigation equipment under its specialized Command agriculture program.
“The Government of Zimbabwe is issuing an irrigation infrastructure Treasury Bond with a face value of $50 million to contribute towards Command Agriculture through funding of development of irrigation infrastructure,” it said in a statement.
The bills have a tenure of three years from the day of allotment, with an interest of six percent per annum. Financial institutions Agribank, CBZ and ZB will disburse the bond.
The government said the bond was targeted at pension funds, insurance companies, banks and any other interested parties. Zimbabwe has only 206 000 hectares of agricultural land under irrigation and has plans to put 2,5 million hectares under irrigation.
Under Command Agriculture, the government provided inputs such as seed and fertiliser, irrigation and mechanised equipment mainly to smallholder farmers. At least 168 666 hectares of land was planted under the program, far short of the 400 000 target due to logistical challenges in distribution of the inputs and incessant rains.
As a result, the country expects 2 million tonnes of maize in the 2016 /17 season which is more than enough to meet national demand. Zimbabwe has in previous seasons failed to produce enough of the staple maize crop due to a cocktail of reasons, made worse in the 2015 /16 farming season by a cyclone El Nino induced drought that left over four million people in need of food aid.
Once touted as the region’s bread basket, the country has been forced to import maize to supplement local production. – New Ziana.