President Mnangagwa has said only deserving farmers will be accommodated under the government’s Command Agriculture facility in the beckoning cropping season.
The facility is aimed at boosting crop output for both the county and farmers, who are expected to deliver their grain to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).
In the previous cropping seasons Command Agriculture funds have been reportedly abused, with some people now demanding that the programme be halted.
However, delivering his State of the Nation Address (SONA) at Parliament Building in Harare, this afternoon, President Mnangagwa said his government was tightening screws on the facility.
“Let me hasten to state that, only those with a proven track record of delivering to GMB and repaying their loans will be supported under the Command Agriculture Programme,” said Mnangagwa.
He said the government had set aside ZWL$1, 8 billion towards the production of strategic crops, such as maize, soya beans and cotton in the imminent 2019 to 2020 cropping season.
“Of this amount, ZWL$ 567, 4 million has been allocated for the provision of inputs for vulnerable households and ZWL$332 million to ensure the procurement of inputs for cotton production,” he explained.
“A total of ZWL$968 million will augment the ZWL$ 2, 8 billion put forward by banks and the private sector to support the Command Agriculture Programme.”
The drought experienced in the previous 2018 to 2019 cropping season saw Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector register a negative growth rate.
The President said sustained turnaround of the economy hinged on focused support for the productive sectors especially agriculture, mining and manufacturing.
“To strengthen our resilience to climate change, government is encouraging communal, A1 and A2 farmers to grow traditional grains,” he elaborated.
“The implementation of the irrigation development programme will also be accelerated. A $60 million facility has been set aside for the rehabilitation of machinery under the Command Agriculture Programme. US$ 51 million has been allocated for the supply of various agricultural machinery from John Deere, some of which are already being delivered.”
He added that the government would accelerate the consummation of a facility with the government of Belarus for the importation of tractors, planters and combine harvesters.
“To render inputs more affordable to our farmers, government is putting in place measures to facilitate the duty-free importation of fertilisers, targeted electricity subsidies and the local manufacturing of fertilisers, including the full exploitation of phosphates from Dorowa,” said Mnangagwa.