Forex crisis weighs on Zimbabwe's command agriculture

Published: 06 September 2018
THE deepening foreign currency crisis in Zimbabwe is hampering government's efforts to mechanise the agro sector through the Command Agriculture programme, the Office of the President and Cabinet said.

Zimbabwe has been experiencing crippling hard currency shortages, which seen industry failing to make offshore payments, especially for imports.

"The Command Agriculture programme has had challenges and one of the major challenges is the shortage of foreign currency pervading this economy," deputy chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Justin Mupamhanga said.

"The unavailability of nostro funds has negatively impacted the procurement of agriculture equipment and machinery," he said.

Under the program, government intends to import irrigation equipment, agricultural machinery such as combine harvesters, tractors and dryers, acquire chemicals and raw materials to manufacture fertilisers, and procure heifers.

Mupamhamga said companies such as Sakunda Holdings (Sakunda) have "undertaken to fund the importation of heifers from neighboring countries, subject to the availability of nostro funds".

"The importation of the heifers is meant to augment the national herd," he said.

The shortage of combine harvesters, dryers and tractors has adversely affected the transition from summer maize to winter wheat cropping.

"In the beginning, the program targeted 200 000 hectares under irrigation. This was not to be as most of the irrigation infrastructure required rehabilitation and to date, only 76 000 hectares of contracted land is irrigable," Mupamhanga said.

Government has made a commitment to put 300 000 hectares under irrigation by year 2020, but the shortages of foreign currency are hampering progress.

The command program was adopted by government during the 2016/17 agricultural season, as a management model that creates a win-win situation for farmers and the private sector.

Other financiers such as National Foods, Staywell and Northern Farming are also financing selected contracted farmers.

The major financier since inception has been Sakunda.

Of the 2,1 million tonnes of maize produced in the 2016/17 season, 461 000 were produced under the program.

For wheat, of the 186 000 tonnes produced, 148 000 were produced under the Command Wheat program.

In the 2017/18 season, 775 000 tonnes of maize were delivered to the Grain Marketing Board, bringing total maize stocks to 1,2 million tonnes, inclusive of the 500 000 tonnes of the strategic grain reserve.

- fingaz
Tags: Forex,


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