Farmers get $100m interest-free loans
A CHINESE company,Tian Ze Tobacco has since 2005 invested about $100 million in Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector through providing interest-free loans to local farmers.
Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Huang Ping said the investment by the company was set to increase as his country seeks to transform Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector.
“Tian Ze has provided about $100 million interest-free loans and offered free technical guidance to the local tobacco farmers,” said Mr THE International Finance Corporation (IFC) says 72 percent of the African healthcare services are paid for out of pocket resulting in medical professionals on the continent being exposed to income insecurity.
During the recently held Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe conference in Victoria Falls, it emerged that income insecurity was a cause for concern for medical practitioners.
In a statement yesterday, the Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe said:
“A key concern for medical professionals on the African continent is income insecurity. The International Finance Corporation reports that 72 percent of African healthcare services are paid for out of pocket, which puts healthcare practitioners at huge financial risk, especially in times of economic downturn.
“This drives medical talent offshore and does not support the development of services in the countries,” it said.
Speaking at the same occasion, Liberty Health divisional director of member care Dr Numaan Mahamood stressed the importance of ongoing conversation and collaboration.
“Funding healthcare and establishing quality systems requires sharing of insights, perspectives and protocols. While regulators and funders can play an oversight role in terms of value delivery and sustainability, healthcare providers are the stewards of patient health and must be active in the conversation,” said Dr Mohamood.
He said their concerns as healthcare funders were sustainability and value – not just for patients, but for healthcare professionals too. Ping.
“We are hopeful that in the future that technical support will increase as we seek to ensure that Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector reaches its full potential,” he said.
Tian Ze Tobacco is owned by China Tobacco Company, which is owned by the Chinese government.
The company became operational in 2005 following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government and China.
The main purpose of the MoU was to facilitate and strengthen collaboration between Zimbabwe and the Asian country in boosting Zimbabwe’s tobacco production.
Specifically, Tian Ze was established with the purpose to assist farmers in Zimbabwe to increase production as well as improve the quality of their produce.
From the onset, Tian Ze Tobacco participated on both public auction floors and contract farming.
Its contract farming project kicked off with one farmer growing 20 hectares of tobacco in 2005.
The contracted hectarage and the number of farmers has grown over the years to 10 000 registered farmers last year.
More farmers are expected to register in the upcoming farming season under the company’s contract arrangement.
Medical professionals concerned over income insecurity
“They need to know that they will be paid fairly and timeously for services rendered,” he said.
Dr Mohamood works with provider networks to ensure practitioners understand how fee structures and care protocols relate to the long-term sustainability of the healthcare funders.
He pointed out that insurers need to gain the trust of provider networks.
It has been noted that in the past, small insurers have gone to market with selective membership products.
Due to their less comprehensive product offering, such providers were unable to accommodate funding for secondary and tertiary services resulting in limited hospital coverage and reduced access to tertiary care.
The solution, according to Dr Mohamood, is population level clinical risk management and the entrenchment of evidence based medical protocols.
“When Liberty Health was established, there was little available data on population health risk. We are now active in 22 African regions and have adequate information to design and implement sustainable and comprehensive funding options across borders,” he said.
Delegates and speakers to the conference were drawn from multiple sectors including health insurance, medical services and government, the annual conference brings together stakeholders. — @okazunga.
Zimra official Makosazana Kuture addresses participants during a ZimTrade Export Awareness Seminar at a Bulawayo hotel yesterday