Government has secured an $85 million facility for the funding of Special Maize Production Programme targeting 400 000 hectares of land, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.
Presenting the Mid-Term Fiscal Policy review yesterday Minister Chinamasa said the facility is now in place and is being co-ordinated through the Office of the President and Cabinet.
For the forth-coming season, Government adopted a Special Maize Production Programme (Command Agriculture) targeting 400 000 hectares of land, expected to produce at least two million tonnes of maize; enough to meet national grain requirements for the country.
“Government is engaging the banking and private sector to mobilise the respective resources to support farmers under this programme, on a cost recovery basis.
“Already, a facility to the tune of $85 million is now in place, and is being co-ordinated through the Office of the President and Cabinet.
“Of this targeted hectarage, 264 000 hectares is dry land, while 136 000 hectares is irrigable,” said Minister Chinamasa.
This import substitution maize production programme is targeting both A1 and A2 farmer participants as well as Government institutional farms, particularly those near water bodies.
Minister Chinamasa said more than 310 000 hectares of land has been identified, of which over 105 000 hectares is irrigable land, while over 204 000 hectares is dry land.
“Farmers are signing performance contracts, initially for three consecutive growing seasons, commencing with the 2016 /17 summer season, and will receive support covering maize seed, fertilisers and tillage,” said Minister Chinamasa.
This special programme will cost approximately $516 million for the initial three years. Key expenditures relate to inputs and labour, including harvesting costs, land preparation and transport expenses.
With regards to maize production this year, Minister Chinamasa said indications are that output will be around 511 816 tonnes, against the initial projection of 450 000 tonnes.
“The higher than anticipated output is attributable to good rains received in the second half of the season that helped some of the late planted and re-planted maize crop,” said Minister Chinamasa.
He said this year’s estimated maize grain harvest of 511 816 tonnes falls short of the normal national grain requirement of 2,2 million tonnes.
Minister Chinamasa said Government interventions to provide for the national maize grain deficit of 1,7 million tonnes are being complemented by private sector and development partners’ imports.
In this regard, as at July 29, 2016 Government procured imports of 188 831 tonnes of maize costing $71,5 million.
On the other end, private sector has so far imported 278 000 tonnes in the form of maize and mealie-meal, worth over $100 million.
Minister Chinamasa said development partners are also supporting Government in mitigating the impact of the El Nino induced drought.
To this end, development partners who pledged $360 million under their Drought Response Plan have as of July 2016, mobilised $110 million for importation of grain.
He said development partner support is not only towards grain importation, but is also focusing on emergency rehabilitation of some rural water supply points for identified vulnerable households, and school feeding, among others.
In this regard, $1,5 million has been spent on health and nutrition, while $0,4 million went towards water and sanitation.
“Let me take this opportunity to thank our development partners for their unwavering support towards complementing Government’s efforts in responding to the El Nino induced drought.
“I have already alluded to the drought situation that undermined agricultural performance, against the background of the El-Nino effect on rainfall across Provinces. This adversely affected most crops, with lower yields projected for 2016 compared to last year,” said Minister Chinamasa.