Parliament has now approved a US$35,7 million loan facility with the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) that will benefit smallholder farmers in five of Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces.
The loan is repayable over 40 years and has a 1,5 percent yearly service fee and a 10-year grace period when no repayments need be made.
Government entered into the loan agreement with IFAD in May and it was approved by Parliament, which needs to approve such loans in terms of the Constitution.
The funds will benefit farmers in Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Midlands and Matabeleland North under the smallholder agriculture cluster project.
The motion for the approval was moved by Finance and Economic Development Deputy Minister Clemence Chiduwa.
He said according to the National Development Strategy I, Government prioritises the recovery of the agricultural sector, which is a key enabler to the country’s economic growth.
The smallholder agriculture cluster project, said Deputy Minister Chiduwa, aims to increase agriculture production and productivity by smallholder farmers to enhance food and nutrition security, boost incomes, increase opportunities for value addition and develop agro-business value chains.
“The project shall benefit poor smallholder farmers in value chains selected through stakeholder business planning and a competitive matching grant mechanism,” he said.
The goal is to increase equitable smallholder participation in market-oriented and climate-smart value chains to boost household incomes through sustainable transformation of the smallholder farming sector.
Some of the components to be supported under the project include inclusive value chain development, climate-proofed value chain infrastructure, policy and institutional support and project coordination, and contingency emergency response.
Zanu PF Chief Whip, Cde Pupurai Togarepi welcomed the loan agreement.
“The majority of our people are in agriculture and this facility is targeted at improving the capacity of our smallholder farmers where we get the majority of our people.
“The biggest quantity of our production in Zimbabwe comes from the smallholder farmers and capacitating them will really go a long way in improving agricultural knowledge for these people, also giving them enough capital to venture and for training,” said Cde Togarepi.
Uzumba legislator Cde Simbaneuta Mudarikwa said the loan facility will capacitate farmers to enhance their productivity and contribution to national development, in line with the National Development Strategy 1.
Hwange Central legislator Daniel Molokele urged prospective beneficiaries to fully use the funds.
The loan facility will help Government meet its agriculture targets for this year.
Output from the farms continues to rise owing to a number of interventions by Government including massive input schemes for farmers prepared to undergo training and to the required preparation work and capacitating Agritex officials with motorcycles to improve mobility.