via Banks to fund farmers | The Herald November 27, 2015
Conrad Mwanawashe Business Reporter
Agricultural financing for the 2015-16 season will be done through credit from the banking sector, support arrangements from Government, cooperating partners and farmers’ own resources, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Presenting the 2016 National Budget, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said Government’s support to farmers was in recognition of the role of agriculture in food security and promotion of value chains.
The agriculture sector contributes about 60 percent to manufacturing and also consumes almost 40 percent of industrial output.
“The importance of the sector also lies in its contribution to export earnings of around 30 percent, 60 percent-70 percent of employment and about 19 percent of GDP, that way providing a major source of livelihood for over 70 percent of our population,” said Minister Chinamasa.
Agriculture is expected to recover by 1,8 percent in 2016 subject to mitigation measures against the impact of the El-Nino weather phenomenon.
The banking sector has set aside about $1 billion under the coordination of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to finance crop and livestock production in the 2015 /16 agriculture season.
Under the financing mechanism, $598 146 427 will go towards tobacco, $80 538 000 (maize), $25 000 000 (soya bean), $34 500 000 cotton while the remainder goes towards livestock, poultry and other products.
Minister Chinamasa said among measures aimed at improving the agriculture sector, Government would ensure farmers were paid for produce delivered to the Grain Marketing Board.
“Honourable Members will be aware that Government delays in paying farmers for deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board have in the past constrained individual farmers’ capacity to finance their future cropping programmes.
“Government has, therefore, continued to prioritise payment for grain deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board also as a way of capacitating farmers,” said Minister Chinamasa.
A total of $67,8 million was paid between January and November 12, 2015 for grain deliveries, while $11 million was availed to the GMB for handling and storage charges.
Minister Chinamasa said Government’s interventions in agriculture for the coming season took into account Meteorological Services weather forecasts for the 2015 /2016 farming season of normal to below normal rainfall.
Indications are that different regions will fare differently and it will be necessary for planning purposes for farmers monitor Meteorological Services Department weather updates, as well as Extension Services Department advisory warnings on planting, crop maturing varieties, including staggering of planting to spread risks.
This should guide farming operations, including choice of short season crop varieties, planting timings, application of fertilisers and pest control, all critical for effective crop yield from the rainfall received within the forecast short summer cropping season.
Adoption of moisture conservation farming practices should also benefit farmers as these assist to “extend the growing season”.
The 2016 National Budget is prioritising cloud seeding, with $200 000 having already been disbursed in support of a fairly wider programme.