The government on Wednesday unveiled a $161 million farming input scheme for the provision of seed, fertilizer, chemicals and livestock to communal, resettlement, small scale and A1 farmers in Zimbabwe’s 2013/14 agricultural season.
Addressing journalists in the capital, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who was flanked by Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, said the scheme will benefit 1.6 million households countrywide.
Chinamasa said the input package will comprise maize or small grain seed and lime.
He noted that the scheme will see the government paying off $11.8 million it owes to seed houses and fertilizer companies.
Chinamasa said this payment will be done before the end of this week.
He said while there was enough seed in the country, there is a serious shortage of fertilizer and they will have to import it to meet a national requirement of 200,000 tonnes of Compound D and 200,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate.
The minister said government will provide $40 million to the fertilizer industry and $10 million to seed houses for supplies required for the 2013/14 agricultural season.
Chinamasa said private sector support for the scheme is about $120 million.
In addition to the government scheme, cooperating partners through the Food and Agricultural Organization would avail $19.2 million to support 77,800 smallholder farmers with agricultural inputs.
He said government is working with some banks to secure support for A2 and commercial farmers as they are not covered under the government farming input scheme.
Meanwhile, Made said this is the last time that government will be providing such support to farmers as it wants to focus on subsidizing the production of inputs so that they are affordable to farmers.
He said government would also focus on mechanization and irrigation in order to maximize yields.
Zimbabwean farmers have been receiving government support in the form of inputs, equipment and tractors since 2000 but this has not boosted crop production as most have been abused, sold on the black market or exported to neighboring countries.