Govt seeks funds for com­mand agric

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Martin Kadzere

THE Gov­ern­ment is look­ing at sup­ple­ment­ing fi­nances for its multi-mil­lion in­vest­ment pro­gramme for the 2016/17 agri­cul­tural sea­son with fund­ing from pen­sion funds and in­sur­ance com­pa­nies.

Re­cently, Gov­ern­ment launched com­mand agri­cul­ture with a tar­get of fi­nanc­ing 400 000 hectares of the maize crop. The pro­gramme is ex­pected to pro­duce two mil­lion tonnes of maize, which would dras­ti­cally cut the food im­port bill or elim­i­nate it.

The Gov­ern­ment has al­ready ap­pealed to the Zim­babwe As­so­ci­a­tion of Pen­sion Funds to as­sist in rais­ing $348 mil­lion re­quired to fi­nance the pro­gramme.

“The ZAPF has been re­quested to give an in­di­ca­tion of how much Self-Ad­min­is­tered Funds will con­trib­ute to­wards the project,” said the as­so­ci­a­tion in a note to mem­bers.

“Gov­ern­ment bonds with pre­scribed as­set sta­tus are go­ing to be avail­able in the mar­ket soon and mem­bers are re­quested to as­sess their cash flows on a monthly ba­sis, over the next twelve months start­ing Septem­ber 2016 and in­di­cate to the ZAPF what con­tri­bu­tions they are likely to make to­wards fi­nanc­ing this project,” it added.

In terms of the law, the in­dus­try is ex­pected to com­ply with a pre­scribed as­set ra­tio of 10 per­cent of fund port­fo­lio.

The ZAPF said mem­bers should in­di­cate how much they can con­trib­ute to­wards fi­nanc­ing the pro­gramme by end of Au­gust this year. Com­mand agri­cul­ture is part of the Gov­ern­ment’s com­pre­hen­sive mea­sures that it is com­ing up with to en­hance food se­cu­rity.

The pro­gramme in­volves iden­ti­fy­ing com­pe­tent maize farm­ers, who would be given in­puts, ir­ri­ga­tion and mech­a­nised equip­ment. The farm­ers, to work un­der strict su­per­vi­sion will be re­quired to com­mit five tonnes per hectare to­wards re­pay­ment of in­puts.

The pro­gramme will en­sure Zim­babwe be­comes self-re­liant in terms of food re­quire­ments.

The chal­lenges re­lated to un­pre­dictable rain­fall pat­terns due to cli­mate change de­mand that the coun­try in­vests in ir­ri­ga­tion schemes and max­imise on the use of ex­ist­ing and new fa­cil­i­ties.

As such, the Gov­ern­ment will dis­trib­ute ir­ri­ga­tion equip­ment be­ing ac­quired from Brazil un­der the $98 mil­lion loan fa­cil­ity pro­vided by the South Amer­i­can coun­try to sup­port farm­ers.

The equip­ment, which also in­cludes trac­tors and fer­tiliser spread­ers was launched by Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe in May last year and will help the Gov­ern­ment ful­fil tar­gets un­der the Food and Nu­tri­tion clus­ter in the ZimAs­set, the coun­try’s medium eco­nomic pro­gram.

Pre­vi­ously, pen­sion funds have par­tic­i­pated in var­i­ous na­tional pro­jects, in­clud­ing agri­cul­ture and in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment. This year, Zim­babwe im­ported grain worth sev­eral mil­lions of dol­lars to mit­i­gate the im­pact of the drought which hit sev­eral coun­tries in the re­gion.

Some of the peo­ple at the Harare Agri­cul­ture Show take a look at a 550 horse­power trac­tor be­ing show­cased by South­ern Re­gion Trad­ing. These high horse­power models can han­dle the world’s biggest and most pro­duc­tive broad­acre im­ple­ments.

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