Source: Inputs scheme to benefit one million more households | The Herald June 8, 2017
Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter—
AN additional one million households will get inputs under the Presidential Input Support Scheme in the 2017-18 farming season, bringing the number of beneficiaries to 1.8 million, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said. Addressing stakeholders attending a Command Agriculture coordination workshop in Harare yesterday, Minister Chinamasa said 800 000 households benefited under the scheme last season.
“We are committing ourselves as Treasury to supporting agriculture in a bigger way in the 2017-18 season. We are going to support the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme to 1.8 million households unlike in the past season where we supported 800 000 vulnerable households,” said Minister Chinamasa.
“We are going to extend for a further year the support we are giving to cotton production. While the private sector supports wheat production, we will also support wheat, soyabeans and livestock production which will be under Command Agriculture,” he said.
“We have played our part in the same way that the private sector has played its part. Treasury has never spent as much resources as we did this past season.
“We supported the Presidential Inputs Scheme to the tune of $30 million. We supported cotton production to the tune of $42 million through issuance of Agricultural Marketing Authority Bills and resources worth $80 million were availed through the national budget,” he said.
Minister Chinamasa applauded the private sector for supporting farmers during the 2016/17 season and encouraged agroprocessors and manufactures to continue supporting the sources of their raw materials.
“Last season the private sector supported agriculture to the tune of the tune of $264 million. The private sector participation included support from Sakunda Holdings on the 2016/17 season Command Agriculture and for the 2017 winter wheat programme. I also thank IPEC for insurance and pension who are going to support irrigation infrastructure at a very minimum cost to the farmer,” he said.
“I applaud the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe who supported the rehabilitation of the grain silos. I am confident as I look into the future that we are poised to achieve rapid and inclusive growth given the importance we have attached to agriculture as the centrepiece of development. We cannot go wrong by giving maximum support to agriculture,” he said.
Minister Chinamasa pledged support to companies investing in research and development.
He said Government would offer fiscal incentives to such companies.
“These initiatives will undoubtedly enhance product quality, reduce the costs of production and improve price competitiveness,” he said.
“If you feel there are any incentives we have not given please come and tell us. Give us ideas on the scope that you think we should include to exploit various value chains and these could be incentives by players like millers who may want to contract farmers.”
Minister Chinamasa applauded Government for coming up with Command Agriculture.
“It is in this light that we thank Government for coming up with innovative ways of stimulating production in the country and Command Agriculture is one such innovative way that Government thought about to stimulate production in the agriculture sector,” he said.
“Agriculture is central to our inclusive development aspirations given its importance and its role in a number of areas.
“Through growing agriculture we will also be able to reduce imports of some food stuffs that we are producing locally. We should treat agriculture as a business whose entire value chain should be clearly understood and supported by private and public sector players,” he said.
Minister Chinamasa urged banks to fund farmers.
“Banks have no excuse for not lending to farmers and the private sector. We have taken over a billion dollars and have cleaned their balance sheets to whet their appetite for more lending to the productive sectors. So banks have no excuse whatsoever.
“The burden of those bad debts is now on the Government through the company we formed, Zimbabwe Asset Management Company (ZAMCO),” he said.
The RBZ established ZAMCO to take over non-performing-loans.