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More financiers for Command Agric

Africa Moyo Senior Business Reporter
Command Agriculture, a special maize import substitution programme, has attracted more private sector financiers such as National Foods Limited and Northern Farming.

Homelink Group, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), has also joined Command Agriculture with a $6 million facility focusing on beef production while Irvine’s Zimbabwe is also supporting the poultry programme. Initially, fuel dealer Sakunda Holdings was the major financier of the programme when it was introduced by Government in the 2016 /17 cropping season.

Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Mr Justin Mupamhanga, told the 6th Annual National Agribusiness Conference on Wednesday that more private sector firms have joined the financing of Command Agriculture.

“ . . . other contractors include National Foods, Staywell (Trading) and Northern Farming,” said Mr Mupamhanga.

The new financiers are set to work with selected contracted farmers.

National Foods, a Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE)-listed firm, is a diversified conglomerate that has become one of the largest manufacturers and marketers of food products in the Southern African region. Established in 1920, National Foods has 98 years of milling experience, and is expected to play a key role in transforming the agricultural sector.

Northern Farming is a top agricultural firm that has partnered state-owned Agriculture and Rural Development Authority (Arda) to invest $30 million in developing macadamia and avocado plantations in the country’s Eastern Highlands.

The company is owned by Rift Valley, a shareholder in Border Timbers.

Staywell Trading, a commodity brokerage division for Origen Zimbabwe, is credited for carving a niche in the country’s grain procurement and trading business. The company was set-up in 1993.

Homelink has subsidiaries namely Easylink Money Transfer (Pvt) Ltd, Homelink Finance (Pvt) Ltd and Strategic Business Units; Proplink and Investlink.

Government embarked on the Command Agriculture programme in a bid to ensure food security in the country. Mr Mupamhanga said the programme has performed well in the last two seasons as indicated by the bumper harvest of 2016/ 17 and the on-going maize deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) for the 2017 /18 marketing season.

The inaugural phase of Command Agriculture resulted in a bumper harvest of 1 210 558 962 tonnes, including the 461 114 072 tonnes from the Presidential Input Support Scheme.

Wheat production also reached 186 243 tonnes, with the programme contributing 148 356 179 tonnes. In the inaugural season maize was planted on 171 255ha before rising to 176 892ha in the previous season. Soya bean was planted on 21 743ha in the 2017 /18 season.

Mr Mupamhanga said maize deliveries to GMB have hit 775 228 tonnes for the 2017/18, bringing total maize stocks to 1 132 396 456 tonnes. Soya bean deliveries were 37 557 703 as at August 27.

Mr Mupamhanga said Sakunda has availed a $10 million for the purchase of cattle for Matabeleland North and South provinces.

As at August 28, Matabeleland North had taken delivery of 844 heifers while Matabeleland South had received 1 384. Subject to availability of nostro funds, Sakunda has undertaken to fund the importation of more heifers from neighbouring countries, to augment the national herd.

Added Mr Mupamhanga: “Homelink has offered a $6 million cattle facility to support remaining six rural provinces.”

Part of Homelink’s facility would be used to import more heifers from neighbouring countries, again to support the national herd.

The poultry project, again supported by Sakunda to the tune of two million chicks per month, has reportedly attracted a “lot of excitement and demand is very high”.

Chicks are sourced from Irvine’s, which has also supported the development of 10 model fowl runs, one in every province. Mr Mupamhanga said cumulatively, 469 000 chicks have been distributed to 163 farmers in Mazowe, Seke, Harare, Goromonzi, Zvimba, Chegutu, Shamva, Marondera, Bindura and Murehwa districts.

Already, 360 000 mature birds have been delivered to Kudu Creek and Slaughterland abattoirs for slaughter and marketing.

The programme is affected by shortages of nostros funds, which has negatively impacted on the procurement of irrigation equipment, machinery, heifers, chemicals, and raw materials for fertiliser manufacturing.


Source : The Herald

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