Farmers welcome Command Agric funding terms

Source: Farmers welcome Command Agric funding terms | The Herald November 4, 2019

Farmers welcome Command Agric funding termsMr Chabikwa

Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter

Farmers have hailed Government for introducing new funding conditions for Command Agriculture that require individuals to approach banks for support in grain production during the 2019-20 summer cropping season.

The farmers said the move will help them boost production and do away with unscrupulous businesspeople who used to abuse inputs under Command Agriculture.

For the 2019-20 maize and soyabeans support, Government has entered into partnerships with Agribank, CBZ, Stanbic and Women’s Bank to manage and disburse funds for the programme.

These banks shall support A1, A2 and other large-scale farmers into soyabean and maize production.

The tenure of the loans is 270 days at an interest rate of 10,5 percent per annum and an upfront fee of 2,25 percent.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president Mr Wonder Chabikwa yesterday said farmers welcomed the new conditions as Government was guaranteeing the loans.

He said the facility would benefit “real farmers” who are hardworking while boosting the sustainability of agricultural funding.

“Real farmers farm for profit and pay back loans. When all things are normal farmers pay back loans as they will want to continue benefiting from the facility. By accessing loans through the banks, cases of people abusing inputs will be limited,” he said.

Mr Chabikwa said some farmers were afraid of the risk associated with bank loans.

He said some years back, farmers lost properties to banks after failing to pay back loans.

“Some farmers are afraid of applying for bank loans because of the background relations they had with the financial institutions.

“On Command Agriculture, farmers had some protection especially when yields were affected by natural disasters such as drought or hailstorm.

“This should also be the case with banks. The banks should be prepared to move together with the farmers and be on the ground in case productivity is affected by droughts. Banks should have agro-divisions that move together with farmers.

“Farmers should also insure their crops against such risks. For Command Agriculture, farmers could fail to settle their loans, but also benefit the following years as the authorities would be aware of the reason for failure and this should also apply to banks,” he said.

Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust president, Mrs Depinah Nkomo said while most farmers had good track records, some were not willing to engage banks for loans.

“Some farmers may be forced to fund production on their own as they are afraid of approaching banks and this may compromise an area put under cropping.

“For those who had good track records, Government should have continued with them,” she said.