HARARE - Since the chaotic land reform programme of 2000 — Zimbabwe has witnessed a massive 58 percent decrease in agricultural production and only the timely intervention of support partners has mitigated the situation, an analysis by the Zimbabwe Value Chain reveals.
On the backdrop of worsening economic conditions and food shortages, Zimbabwe yesterday joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Food Day — and had it not been for donor partners like the Danish Development Cooperation (Danida), many people who are living in the clutches of poverty would have been worse off.
In a response to the crisis, Danida entered into a partnership with Netherlands Development Programme (SNV) in 2010 to support the Rural Agriculture Revitalisation Programme (RARP) aiming to provide solutions for reviving smallholder agriculture, a key driver of economic growth in Zimbabwe.
RARP’s multi-pronged approach to reviving agriculture saw the establishment of the Zimbabwe Agricultural Development Trust (ZADT), which manages the Credit for Agricultural Trade and Expansion (Create Fund).
According to the ZADT, since inception $58,9 million has been disbursed to 176 agri-businesses, benefitting over 150 000 smallholder farmers that are linked to the funded businesses.
In an interview recently, the ZADT chief executive officer Godfrey Chinoera said: “Household food and nutrition insecurity is a significant challenge faced by millions of smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe.
The Create Fund contributes to improving livelihoods of smallholder farmers by providing affordable credit and capacity building services to agri-businesses that offer access to secure markets for the farmers.”
He said that the Create Fund is an appropriate intervention for smallholder agriculture growth in light of the chronic liquidity challenges and financial institutions’ unwillingness to directly finance the smallholder farming sector.
The Danida-funded RARP was successfully completed in April this year, however, ZADT will continue to manage the Create Fund in the future.
Commenting on the intervention Chargé d'Affaires a.i. at Royal Danish Embassy Office Signe Winding Albjerg said: “Our development cooperation with Zimbabwe over that last few years also focused on supporting inclusive economic growth through private sector development in agriculture.
“The Create Fund will most likely be one of our most enduring footprint on the sector as it is a revolving fund that will grow with time and continue to change the landscape of the development of agriculture in Zimbabwe.”
Smallholder farmers are a critical pillar of the economy; however, they will remain poor if their agricultural production remains low.
Chinoera added: “Our value chain credit financing facility is a model for future growth of the sector.
“There is great scope for other donors with an interest in developing small-scale agriculture to contribute to the Create Fund as it is a facility already in place that is designed to reach out to smallholder farmers.”
The ZADT was formed to promote and support sustainable revitalisation of the smallholder agricultural sector in Zimbabwe.
Through the Create Fund it has provided low cost capital to companies that provide markets to smallholder farmers; facilitating a much-needed boost to household food and income security.
The agri-businesses that have been funded by the facility are involved in agriculture input manufacturing, contract farming, output storage and marketing, food processing and distribution.