Home » Business » U.S $38 Million Boost for Agriculture

President Mugabe yesterday commissioned agricultural equipment worth $38,6 million as Government accelerates efforts to achieve targets set under the Zim-Asset Food Security and Nutrition cluster.

The equipment, which includes tractors, fertiliser spreaders and irrigation kits, is the first of three tranches coming under a $98 million loan facility secured from Brazil under the South American country’s More Food For Africa Programme.

Beneficiaries under Phase One will be schemes for smallholder farmers who benefited from the land reform programme.

President Mugabe said the equipment was one of the many ways of defeating the illegal economic sanctions imposed on the country by the West and saw the livelihoods of ordinary people declining to pitiable levels.

He said the only way Zimbabweans could shame Western countries’ exploitative tactics was to be productive on their farms.

“We got this equipment as our national equipment, as our instrument to raise our standards of living, to say here we are Zimbabwe, down with your sanctions you Americans and you Europeans,” President Mugabe said.

“We are succeeding with the help of those who are our friends indeed. A friend in need is a friend indeed and Brazil is such a friend. Let us go and be more productive and produce not just for our stomachs but also for export so we can have external earnings coming in.”

He added: “We have related to various countries– our erstwhile colonisers, the United States of America, but none of them has ever wanted to look at how each and every country in Africa could be transformed in terms of its socio-economic system.”

Under the More Food For Africa programme, the loan will be paid by each beneficiary country over 15 years at an interest of two percent per annum. In Zimbabwe, Agribank are the administrators of the loan.

President Mugabe said Zimbabweans should pay back the low interest rate loan from increased yields.

“Let us not disappoint those who help us, let us inspire them as well,” he said.

“But of course it is not giving us on a charitable, generous basis merely. Yes, generous they are but it is on a reciprocal basis where they extend a loan which carries a mere two percent. Inotonyadza kutaura. If you go to America and Britain they will say you are lying there are no loans of that nature. Certainly there are no loans in their environments. How can there be any soft loans where people are just thinking of sanctions and punishing others? How they can continue to rule the world and never want to teach our people in Africa how they can transform and have their own industries? It is just oppression, oppression and more oppression they think about. We say down with them with these tractors.”

He said the equipment was a major boost to the ongoing agrarian reform process whose overall objective was to enhance sustainable agricultural productivity through capacity-building and technology transfer to smallholder famers.

Agriculture, President Mugabe said, was the basic industry which others relied on to take off and the implementers of the programme should ensure the equipment reaches intended beneficiaries.

“You cannot start building industries when your agriculture is so poor,” he said.

“We hope there will be good management and proper utilisation of the equipment and no conflicts and fights. We must organise our people properly into groups as they are given adequate equipment.”

The President described the commissioning of the equipment as timely as it had come on the eve of the winter cropping season.

Brazilian ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ms Marcia Maro da Silva, said Zimbabwe was the first country to benefit from the programme, ahead even of countries to which Brazil had family ties.

She said the programme was just “a drop in the ocean” in relation to the need to revamp the Zimbabwean agriculture sector.

“Much more has to be done,” she said.

“Perhaps the most important effect of the programme is to allow a better understanding and acquaintance between Brazilian and Zimbabwean institutions and business people. It is a learning process. These contacts will contribute to the speeding up of the identification of business opportunities on the agriculture field, in a commercial and broad basis.”

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made said the development would go a long way in making Zim-Asset a success.

“Zimbabwe has 15 092 tractors, of which 30 percent are not functioning,” he said.

“The total number of tractors in the country falls far below the national requirement of between 40 000 and 50 000 units. The programme will contribute to the Zim-Asset irrigation development which targets a functional area under irrigation to be increased from 150 000 hectares to 200 000 hectares by 2018.”

Said Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa: “Achievement of food security and nutrition goals under Zim-Asset requires farmers to work hard, hand in hand with value chain actors.

“In this regard, I would like to commend private companies for working with Government and farmers to increase agricultural production and productivity.”

The event was attended by Provincial Affairs Ministers, diplomats, traditional leaders, farmers and service chiefs.

Source : The Herald