HARARE – Government yesterday unveiled a $161 million farming inputs support facility that will benefit at least 1,6 million households in the forthcoming 2013-14 agricultural season.
Patrick Chinamasa, the Finance minister, said the input support programme targets communal, old resettlement, small-scale and A1 farmers with a combined coverage of 1,6 million households.
He said in order to successfully implement the programme, government acknowledged the need to honour outstanding payments to input suppliers, which is currently undermining its capacity to support agriculture.
Chinamasa pointed out that government had by yesterday disbursed the outstanding $11,8 million to various seed houses and fertiliser companies.
“Furthermore, government has also disbursed the outstanding $9,2 million payment to farmers for grain deliveries to Grain Marketing Board (GMB) under the current grain marketing season,” Chinamasa said.
The basic input package will comprise of one 10kg maize or small grain seed, 50 kg fertiliser compound D, 50kg ammonium nitrate and 50kg lime.
“In the drier areas, farmers may not necessarily need crop input packs, but would rather prefer support to cater for their livestock,” Chinamasa said. “In such areas, a livestock support pack comprising drugs, vaccines and stock feed equivalent to the value of grain input package would be availed instead.”
He said fertiliser companies were in the process of receiving $40 million geared towards initial payment for supplies required under the agriculture input support programme while $10 million was for payment for seed supplies.
The finance chief also announced that the private sector was chipping in with at least $120 million.
“The private sector is geared at providing financial facilities in support of production of agricultural inputs by our fertiliser companies and seed houses for this agricultural season,” Chinamasa said.
He said the Food and Agricultural Organisation had indicated readiness to partner government to the tune of $19,25 million targeting 77 800 smallholder farmers.
During its peak, agriculture used to contribute at least 60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product with sectors such as cattle ranching and grain production flourishing.
Statistics from the United Nations World Food Programme show that this year more than 2,2 million people will need food assistance.