By Chipo Musoko, HARARE, May 7 (The Source) – The Zimbabwe government has secured a $98,6 million loan facility from Brazil to import agricultural equipment from that country but is struggling to pay farmers owed $29 million for grain deliveries for the 2013/14 season, Parliament heard on Thursday.
Agriculture minister, Joseph Made told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Peace and Security on Thursday that government had been negotiating for lines of credit from Brazil, India and South Korea to buy equipment.
“The Brazil equipment is here. What arrived is $38 million worth of equipment and the remaining will be sent in two tranches of $30 million,” he said, adding that the equipment would be sold to communal and A1 farmers.
Made said the Indian and South Korean facilities worth $60 million and $100 million respectively would target A2 farmers.
“From the India Exim Bank facility, $20 million will go towards mechanization and $40 million will be devoted to irrigation. The South Korean facility is for mechanization and will be disbursed in tranches of $10 million,” he said.
Made said government was also getting support from the European Union worth 6 million Euro, targetting 20 irrigation schemes in Manicaland and Matabeleland South provinces while the Swiss Development Cooperation had advanced 6,3 million Euro to rehabilitate eight irrigation schemes in Masvingo province.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), together with the ministry would set up a $48 million facility for advisory services and to assist rural communities fight poverty, he said.
Government has so far paid $59 million to farmers who were owed for the 220,000 tonnes of grain delivered during the 2013/14 season, leaving a balance of $29 million.
This season the country faces a drought and is set to import 700,000 tonnes of grain after writing off 300,000 hectares were of the 1,5 million ha of maize planted during the 2014/15 season. The country still has 150,000 tonnes in stock from the previous season which will be augmented by imports from neighbouring countries.
Similarly, of the 200,000 ha of sorghum planted, 31,000 ha was written off, as was 14,000 ha of 182,000 ha of millet planted.
This season the country is expecting to harvest 742,000 tonnes of cereals, a 49 percent decline from last year.
Meanwhile, Made said there was need to move swiftly to pay for grain deliveries this season as some farmers were demanding that government give back their maize due to the drought.
“Farmers are saying ‘give us our grain back because we are facing hunger’ and we have to look for money to pay them,” he said.