THE Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) is partnering Barclays Bank to create a revolving fund to assist young farmers in the country’s rural areas to grow their agriculture businesses. Beneficiaries of the fund would be drawn from the 31 000 young farmers who are active in the ZFU’s young farmers clubs around the country, says ZFU information officer, Tinashe Kairiza.
Kairiza said the initiative also sought to support youth-oriented micro, small and medium enterprises to develop linkages with large enterprises.
Kairiza, however, would not disclose the amount of seed money to be made available for the assistance under the fund. “The initiative by Barclays Bank to partner ZFU in setting up this fund is commendable because it demonstrates the potential that young people possess in running viable agriculture enterprises if they are adequately supported,” he said.
It is our expectation that our young farmers will take advantage of this fund to grow their business enterprises as well as improve their capability on running their farming activities as viable business enterprises.” The fund, due to be officially launched on January 28, comes at a time when farmers have been failing to access affordable lines of credit from financial institutions.
Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector, which had declined over the past decade mainly because of the limited funding available and poor rainfall patterns, is on the recovery path with output of crops such as maize and tobacco exceeding targets. Maize output in the 2013/14 season reached 1,46 million tonnes from the original target of 1,3 million tonnes while tobacco output surpassed the initial target of 171 million kilogrammes to reach 215,2 million kg.
Agriculture has been identified as one of the sectors which can anchor Zimbabwe’s economic recovery and growth under the five year economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-economic Transformation. — New Ziana
Aricle first appeared in the Financial Gazette.