Senate approves US$15m fund for smallholder farmers

Finance deputy minister Clemence Chiduwa

SENATE has ratified a US$15 million loan agreement between government and the Opec Fund for International Development which was signed last year to support smallholder farmers.

Finance deputy minister Clemence Chiduwa said the loan would assist Zimbabwe to achieve food nutrition and security as envisaged in National Development Strategy 1.

“The rationale of the whole project is that we are looking at transforming agriculture, looking at how best we can enhance production processing and also transforming value chains. All these, including the rationale of the project are contained in the loan agreement," Chiduwa said.

 “The loan agreement between government and Opec Fund of US$15 million (is) for part financing of the smallholder agriculture cluster projects to be implemented in Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Midlands and Matabeleland North provinces,” he said.

The loan is also expected to transform smallholder farmers through value-chain investments in agribusinesses.

Chiduwa said commercialisation of smallholder agriculture was key in urban and rural agricultural production and food trading corridors, as well as infrastructural development such as climate-proofed irrigation systems.

“The project is meant to increase agricultural production, productivity, especially by smallholder farmers, which enhances food and nutrition security, incomes, increases opportunities for value addition and the development of agrobusiness value chains.

“The programme will improve farmers' engagement in market-oriented and climate-smart value chains while being co-financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the private sector,” he said.

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