Zimbabwe is one of three countries in the region selected to benefit from a $20 million African Development Bank (AfDB) soft commodities facility meant to support farmers improve produce for exports.
Malawi and Mozambique will also get funding from the facility meant to provide pre and post shipment finance for soft commodity value chain operations to assist local farmers grow their revenues and produce quality crops for export.
A regional firm, Meridian, which focuses on production and supply of various agricultural inputs/outputs through subsidiaries in Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, is managing the facility.
The company, in which the AfDB has a 20 percent shareholding, employs over 4 200 workers and is one of the Southern African Development Community’s largest commodity aggregators, distributing over 250 000 metric tonnes of goods per annum throughout the region.
It is also a major buyer of soft commodities from small-scale farmers using its retail network of over 120 shops spread across rural areas.
“It (the facility) will enable the bank (AfDB) to reach small-scale farmers indirectly through a regional aggregator (Meridian) that understands the market in which it has accumulated a 40-year track record; understands the operational risks and is able to mitigate and manage them,” the AfDB said.
About 10 000 farmers in the three countries are expected to benefit from the support.
The AfDB said the project confirms with its core operational priority of private sector development as articulated in the 10-Year Strategy (2013-2022) and the Trade Finance Programme, which aims to promote exports through support to agriculture and SMEs. — New Ziana.