ZIMBABWE’S Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, says a portion of the country’s US$961 million Special Drawing Rights(SDR) windfall received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), will be channeled towards revving the country’s horticulture sector and strengthening the government climate proofing initiatives.
Speaking on ZimpapersTelevision Network Mint (ZTN) programme, minister Ncube, said a Horticulture revolving fund was to be established with a portion of the SDR funds in line with proposals contained in the 2020 budget statement.
“We are targeting the Agriculture sector and there are two specific areas we are targeting. One is the Horticulture sector through creating a Horticulture revolving fund. I announced this in the 2020 budget statement and could not proceed with it because we had Covid and had to reprioritize. So this Horticulture will target macadamia nuts, blueberries and anything horticulture”.
During the 90s the Horticulture used to contribute about five percent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but the figure has fallen to 0.5 percent. Zimbabwe was also the biggest exporter of horticulture produce in Africa with niche markets in Europe and the Americas.
“We are not giving cash to farmers but we want to ensure they can access a line of credit facility and export their produce then pay back the money so it continues to revolve. So we unlock that by providing a cash guarantee to a local or foreign bank sitting on foreign currency and on the back of that a credit line is structured so what we have lent out grows and as Government we are serious about that”.
Turning to climate proofing agriculture Minister Ncube, said another portion of the SDR funds will go towards building and rehabilitating irrigation facilities across the country.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture the country can irrigate 2 million hectares but is only irrigating 175 000ha and Government is working on increasing the hectarage under irrigation to 300 000 hectares by 2023.
“We are targeting irrigation in particular irrigation that will target vulnerable farmer so we want to further climate proof our agriculture, we have done well with Pfumvudza and this has partly climate proofed our agriculture. We have so much water but we need to get it to the farmer so we are going to allocate some portion of the SDRs to building irrigation systems”.