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Researchers want govt to unlock agric funding

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Agrarian researchers have urged the government to devise strategies to unlock funding for farmers, amid indications that the majority of the land in Zimbabwe is being underutilised due to funding constraints.

BY TARISAI MANDIZHA

Sam Chambati
Sam Chambati

Speaking at the regional dialogue on land tenure and contract farming in Southern Africa, Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies researcher, Walter Chambati said there was need to come up with different strategies to unlock funding for farmers, as the State is burdened and has limited funding from the fiscus.

“We have to think about different strategies to unlock funding for farmers. One of the obvious ones is for farmers to try and build much more co-operations among them to mobilise resources independent from different types of schemes, such as contract, which are, in this case, limited because they cannot accommodate all the farmers,” he said.

“The State is burdened and has limited funding from the fiscus. So we have to discuss a wide range of financing mechanisms, which include farmers to co-operate, mobilise markets, and negotiate better deals bargaining power and inputs, among others.”

The funding constraints come on the back of the fast-track land reform exercise, which transferred 10 million hectares to about 150 000 families.

The white former farmers had access to financing with banks, which are now reluctant to offer financing to the new farmers due to the absence of security of tenure.

Chambati said there was need for the government to give out title deeds or improve their 99-year leases to ensure they are bankable, as the land remains key for sustenance and production.

According to official figures, banks have provided $1,104 billion for the 2017/2018 agriculture season, compared to $1,119bn in the 2016/2017 season, with the finance being targeted to assist farmers for the production of maize, soya, cotton, livestock and tobacco, among many others.

The financial sector has provided over $1 billion to finance the 2017/18 summer farming season in a push to improve food security under command agriculture programme.

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