Zimbabwe re-engages IFAD over $40m debt

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FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa is set to re-engage the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to reschedule payment of a $40 million loan that government owes the organisation.

BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA

Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Chinamasa said IFAD was one of the few remaining valuable partners which had continued to support Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector.

“He (referring to Sana Jata, director of the Eastern and Southern regional division of IFAD) understood fully that we do not have resources and are going to write to IFAD for them to send a mission so that we start negotiations on rescheduling of the debts,” Chinamasa said.

“We are a high drought-prone country and give high priority to irrigation particularly smallholder irrigation and would want to be in good accommodation with IFAD so that we can unlock new value.”

This came as government attempts to seek additional revenue sources to invest in smallholder irrigation in particular designing feasibility studies for dormant irrigation schemes which have remained hamstrung by lack of funding.

Speaking at the same event, Jata said: “I could not tolerate having a country such as Zimbabwe with beautiful projects and positive experiences not re-engage them. If we can be able resolve the arrears question by the end of 2016, we will have a new product being prepared and ready for disbursement to the small holder sector.”

Since 2000, the government has failed to pay back loans owing to IFAD and the figure has accrued due to interest charges.

“The funds that are used in IFAD are partly contributed by the members themselves and when we make that contribution invariably we leverage more resources for little contribution,” Chinamasa said.

Zimbabwe has been a member of IFAD for 35 years and has been assisted with various agricultural projects mainly in small irrigation schemes in Manicaland, Mashonaland Central and West, Masvingo, Midlands, and Matabeleland North and South provinces.

IFAD is a specialised agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries with 178 member countries operating in Africa, Asia and the Pacific region and Latin America.