Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Farming Reporter
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has unveiled a $10 million facility for the promotion of horticultural production in an effort to ensure the country is self-sustainable and increase on exports.
RBZ Deputy Governor Dr Kupukile Mlambo said the facility was targeted at enhancing production of mostly export crops in an effort to improve foreign currency earnings culminating in the growth of the country’s economy.
“We need to promote those sectors of agriculture that bring us exports. At one time we were one of the major exporters of horticultural produce in Africa now we have been overtaken by Ethiopia and other countries so we need to regain that status quo. So that fund is going to rejuvenate that industry and AMA is running that fund,” said Dr Mlambo.
Applications for this three-year revolving fund are being processed by CBZ and Agribank, with 80 percent of the facility going towards working capital requirements while the balance of 20 percent would be for capital development.
He said the facility fee is an all inclusive interest rate of 10 percent per annum with working capital tenure of 12 months while the capital development tenure would be 12 to 36 months.
Applicants are required to register with AMA upon submitting proof of land ownership and details of project cash flows.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said the RBZ facility was one of the many initiatives by the Government aimed at improving horticultural production in the country as it moves to curb imports further stating that horticultural production would be included under the Command Agriculture Programme.
“Horticulture is going to be put under Command Agriculture, this includes your potatoes, cabbage, onions among other vegetables and even fruits. We are actually going to say every household in communal areas should grow certain fruits depending on their adaptation to that area’s climatic conditions.
“Particularly those that benefited A2 farms under the land reform we expect them to venture into citrus farming and particularly those in Matabeleland South especially those within the 150-kilometre radius of the new Zagreva fruit processing plant at Esigodini we expect them produce mangoes, tomatoes while those in the Eastern Highlands are macadamia nuts, coffee and tea,” said Dr Made.
He said horticultural producers to benefit under the Command Agriculture Programme would be supported with requisite inputs.
“We will supply the fertilisers and the necessary irrigation equipment and when the marketing begin a certain portion will be reserved for payment of the facility that’s when the fruit will have matured. Even if it takes a longer period (to mature) we will take a certain percentage or tonnage of what you will have produced,” said Dr Made.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said although the RBZ and AMA horticultural support facility was a welcomed development, farmers were much concerned about its accessibility.