Govt fails new farmers

HARARE - The government has failed to raise Z$6.5 billion it was supposed to transfer to the state-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB) last month for a crop input scheme for resettled and other small-holder farmers.
The money was supposed to be the first tranche of Z$15 billion t

he government promised to provide to assist resettled and communal farmers to buy inputs such as fertiliser, seeds and chemicals, and to meet transport costs.
But official sources this week said the government had failed to live up to its promise and warned that this could adversely affect many people who had been resettled on commercial farms seized under the government’s controversial land reform programme.
“We have not received the money until now, but it was supposed to have come in the week ending October 19,” a GMB official who declined to be named told The Zimbabwean.
There was no comment this week from GMB’s acting chief executive Colonel Samuel Muvuti, who had not responded to written questions sent to him last week.
The GMB had opened 155 more depots countrywide in anticipation of more farmers benefiting from the government’s crop input scheme and in anticipation of collecting more maize from communal growers after the consolidation of legislation making the parastatal the sole trader in maize and wheat.
Since January, the government has disbursed Z$375 million to the GMB’s crop input scheme, under which small-holder farmers borrow funds at concessionary interest rates of 15 percent a year, plus a five percent administration fee.
The sources however said they expected the Ministry of Agriculture to receive a substantial financial boost from the 2007 budget, which will be presented later this month, enabling the government to meet some of its commitments to the farmers.
“We hope that the budget will realise the need for more money for the agriculture sector to help black farmers to access funds for their inputs,” said an official of the Agriculture Development Fund, which provides loans to smallholder farmers.

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