Harare,(New Ziana) – The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development said on Thursday it has partnered with banks to fund command agriculture under a new model aimed at capacitating the agriculture sector and boosting productivity.
Previously the government was directly funding command agriculture, a special scheme introduced in 2016 through which farmers volunteer to participate and are supported with agricultural inputs and given production targets.
But Treasury said the model had now been changed.
“In line with the Transitional Stabilisation Programme and budget statements for 2019, the financing model for special grain and oil
seed (maize, wheat and soya beans) production (Command agriculture) has been transformed and now involves commercial banks and private
sector out-grower schemes, working jointly with government on a public private partnership basis,” the Ministry said.
So far three banks, Agribank, CBZ and Stanbic Bank have partnered government to support the initiative, whose overall objective is to boost the country’s food security.
“More banks are expected to join the programme, therefore bolstering efforts for domestic resource mobilisation,” Treasury said.
Under the new model, banks would provide funding on a commercial basis, with the government providing guarantees, a move that will minimise abuse and ensure effective utilisation of funding.
In the supplementary budget presented last month, Finance Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube said the government was setting aside ZWL$1.03
billion to fund the special maize and soya bean programmes.
The overall target of the initiative is to put at least 210 000 hectares and 30 000 hectares under maize and soya bean respectively.
“To close the loopholes during the forthcoming agriculture season, Government is adopting a targeted approach, which select exclusively
farmers with a track record of honouring their loan obligations from previous programmes and have a history of producing high yields,” said Prof Ncube.
“The selection of farmers will be done in a transparent way and measures will be put in place to recover all the loans.”